Base metals up as trade talks loom, but pessimism limits gains

Madiha Shakeel July 29, 2019

SINGAPORE: Most industrial metals on the London Metal Exchange advanced on Monday ahead of planned U.S.-China trade talks, but gains were capped due to a cautious view on the outcome of the discussion.

Trade negotiators from the United States and China will meet in Shanghai this week for a two-day discussion aimed at resolving the year-long trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

U.S. President Donald Trump has offered a pessimistic view on reaching a deal, saying Beijing may try to delay reaching a trade deal until the 2020 election.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME)  rose in early Asian trading but later retreated to be almost flat at $5,962 a tonne by 0341 GMT, while aluminium  was up 0.3% and zinc 0.5%.

“Uncertainty remains elevated amidst recurring periods of de-escalation and re-escalation in tensions…We expect the U.S.-China trade war to remain for now,” said Fitch in a report.

FUNDAMENTALS

* SHANGHAI PRICES: The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) fell 0.3% to 46,940 yuan ($6,811.29) a tonne and aluminium also dipped 0.3% while zinc rallied 1.3%.

* ZINC: The difference between cash and three-month zinc on the LME <CMZN0-3> flipped into premium, indicating a nearby supply shortage, while stockpiles in LME and ShFE held at low levels <MZNSTX-TOTAL> <ZN-STX-SGH>.

* “We noticed that recently treatment charge started to decline and stainless steel price start to increase. This, combined with sharp decline in exchange inventories on LME and ShFE, leads us to review our prior bearish stance toward zinc prices,” Argonaut Securities’ analyst Helen Lau said in a note.

* CHINA ZINC: China’s imports of refined zinc in June jumped 56.8% from the same time last year to 56,878 tonnes, official data showed.

* CHINA: Profits earned by China’s industrial firms contracted in June after a brief gain the previous month, fuelling concern that a slowdown in manufacturing from a bruising trade war will drag on economic growth.

* ARSENIC COPPER: Glencore has started a new copper concentrates blending facility in Taiwan to mix clean material with ores containing high levels of arsenic, three sources familiar with the matter said.

* ALUMINIUM: United Company Rusal reported a 21% rise in second quarter aluminium sales compared to the previous quarter, as the Russian aluminium giant’s recovery from 10 months under U.S. sanctions accelerated.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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