DAILY ROUND-UP – FastMarkets on base metal sell-off and weak China trade data

A round-up of FastMarkets’ top stories published on March 8:

Base metals fell on Tuesday on the LME after forecast-missing Chinese trade data revived concerns about the health of the global economy.

Aluminium spreads were mixed during Tuesday afternoon LME trading – while the benchmark cash/threes moved into a contango, the backwardation in the sensitive ‘Tom’/next (tomorrow/next day) widened.

Miner-smelter Vedanta is in the market for acquisitions internationally and will probably bid in the forthcoming auctions of mines by the government of India, copper division CEO P Ramnath told FastMarkets today.

The current climate surrounding copper prices has made the market ripe for M&A, Tim Biggs, UK sector leader for metals and mining at consultancy Deloite said today.

The LME’s warehouse stock report for lead on March 9 will include a correction for Vlissingen figures, adjusting a previous reporting mistake, the exchange said.

Standard Chartered sees LME copper prices recovering to $6,000 once investors come back to copper in the second half of this year although they are held back in the short term by a weak Chinese physical market.

A strong gold price running concurrently with a rally in base metals has unsettled participants given their historically inverse relationship, analysts told FastMarkets.

Katanga Mining Ltd has suspended mining at its KOV open-pit copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to a geotechnical failure on the north wall of the operation.

Justin Rose of Luvata painted a bullish picture for copper, highlighting dynamic growth stories in healthcare, refrigeration, the automotive industry and conducting technology as reasons why it has strong potential.

China’s copper exports are likely to continue to rise on a year-on-year basis in March although the increase may not be as strong as that seen in February, market participants said.

The Yabulu nickel refinery in Australia owned by Queensland Nickel (QNI) has received a conditional offer of around A$23 million ($17 million) to support operations at the refinery, FTI Consulting said.

Buyers of P1020 aluminium ingots have tabled initial bids for second-quarter ingot supply to Japan at $110 per tonne on a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis to major Japanese ports (MJP), multiple sources directly involved in negotiations said.

Copper prices are expected to hold much of their recent gains as the market slowly tightens over the year on stagnant supply growth and a pick-up in demand growth, said ANZ Research in a report on Tuesday.

China’s imports of unwrought copper and copper products fell 2.9 percent month-on-month to 420,000 tonnes in February, according to preliminary data published by the country’s General Administration of Customs on Tuesday.

Will Adams

About Will Adams

William Adams has been involved in the metals markets since 1982 – he has experience in many areas of the market from researching to trading and has worked in London, New York and Tokyo.