LIVE FUTURES 19/10: LME base metals prices all up; copper’s C/3M spread at $740/t backwardation

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange all performed well during morning trading on Tuesday October 19, while high energy prices and lower production levels continued to squeeze the markets.

The three-month copper price was at $10,318 per tonne on Tuesday morning, up by 1.2% from $10,196 per tonne at Monday's 5pm close.

Copper's cash/three-month spread flared to a $740-per-tonne backwardation before the stocks information from the LME went live on Tuesday morning, easing from the $1,010-per-tonne backwardation seen on Monday evening.

The red metal has been subject to increasingly tightened spreads across its forward curve given the drawdown in LME stocks.

This trend continued on Tuesday, with 6,900 tonnes being booked for removal overnight from warehouses largely across Europe (Rotterdam, Hamburg and Bilbao) and Singapore, where 250 tonnes were cancelled. Just 15,225 tonnes remained on-warrant in LME sheds across the globe on Tuesday.

"More of the base metals prices have turned vertical and the tightness in the spreads highlights panic short covering," Will Adams, head of base metals and battery research at Fastmarkets, said on Tuesday.

"The trigger seems to have been the high energy costs that are threatening production levels, combined with the power rationing in China that has also affected production. But, because these issues will also be affecting manufacturing, there is also likely to be a demand hit. In turn, that will no doubt affect the broader market and could lead to some follow-through weakness in the metals, but for now equity markets are still buoyant," he added.

Elsewhere, tin's three-month price hit a new all-time high of $38,780 per tonne on Tuesday morning, up by 2.6% from Monday's 5pm close of $37,814 per tonne.

The three-month aluminium price was also up on Tuesday morning, with the price rising by 1.3% to $3,210 per tonne from $3,167.50 per tonne on Monday afternoon.

LME stocks of the light metal were also down, with 8,250 tonnes removed from the exchange’s warehouses overnight, the majority of which was from sheds in Malaysia’s Port Klang and Johor.

Other highlights

  •  The three-month nickel price was at $20,360 per tonne on Tuesday morning, up by 1.8% from $19,997 per tonne at Monday's 5pm close.
  • Key data scheduled for later on Tuesday includes US building permits, housing starts and the Federal budget balance.

Ana de Liz in London also contributed to this report.

Imogen Dudman

imogen.dudman@fastmarkets.com

Published

Imogen Dudman

October 19, 2021

10:08 GMT

London