LIVE FUTURES REPORT 18/12: LME base metals prove directionless in lackluster day’s trading

The three-month prices of base metals on the London Metal Exchange traded in slim ranges to consolidate mixed at the afternoon kerb on Wednesday December 18.

LME base metals three-month prices were seemingly torn between closing up on US-China trade talk optimism now a phase one deal has been agreed between the world’s two largest economies, or down, capped by a stronger US dollar index, which was trading up 0.24% at 97.44 during the afternoon.

In line with recent sessions, nickel was the biggest downward mover of the day, shedding 0.6% from the December 17 afternoon kerb to close at $13,865 per tonne this afternoon.

Upside price action was capped by a 3,558-tonne inflow into the LME warehouse network this morning – global nickel stocks are now at 133,710 tonnes.

And LME nearby nickel spread contangos continue to widen in line with sustained inflows, with the benchmark cash/three-month spread trading in a $68 per tonne contango this afternoon from $61 per tonne earlier today.

Conversely, the LME three-month copper price, which has trended to the upside in recent sessions, closed below $6,200 per tonne once more, shedding a lesser 0.4% from yesterday’s close to end the day at $6,172 per tonne today.

A 5,125-tonne outflow this morning failed to offer any price support, being tempered by a 3,725-tonne inflow into LME approved sheds at the same time, leaving LME global copper inventory at 160,925 per tonne.

Bucking this trend, the LME three-month aluminium price gained marginal ground despite another huge 43,725-tonne inflow today, closing up 0.7% on yesterday’s kerb close at $1,776.50 per tonne today.

LME nearby aluminium spreads have also eased, with the cash-to-January spread backwardation tipping back into a marginal contango of $3.50 per tonne this afternoon following sustained deliveries of aluminium back onto the LME.

Other highlights
  • The LME three-month lead and zinc prices both closed up at today’s kerb – lead gained 1.7% on the previous day’s kerb to close at $1,926 per tonne while zinc rose a lesser 0.4% to close at $2,301 per tonne today. They were the only metals of the complex not subject to inflows of material into LME approved sheds today, perhaps accounting for upward price action.

Amy Hinton

amy.hinton@fastmarkets.com

Published

Amy Hinton

December 18, 2019

17:45 GMT

London