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Markets

Copper rises towards 8-year highs as stimulus cheers markets

  • Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 0.7pc at $8,065 a tonne at 1703 GMT, a little below last week's peak of $8,238, the highest since February 2013.
Published January 15, 2021

LONDON: Copper prices rose on Thursday as the prospect of bigger U.S. economic stimulus lifted Wall Street stocks to record highs, but a firmer dollar and a coronavirus outbreak in China, the biggest metals consumer, threatened the rally.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 0.7pc at $8,065 a tonne at 1703 GMT, a little below last week's peak of $8,238, the highest since February 2013.

Booming industrial output in China, government and central bank stimulus and buying by speculators betting on price rises drove the metal used in power and construction up 26pc last year.

But a rebound in the dollar this month has made metals more expensive for buyers outside the United States, weighing on copper, said ING analyst Wenyu Yao.

Traders were also watching for signs of weakening Chinese demand, which would be shown by a faster increase in inventories than usual at this time of year, she said.

STIMULUS/MARKETS: U.S. and European shares rose as President-elect Joe Biden prepared to unveil a stimulus plan that could exceed $1.5 trillion.

BULLISH: Tightening supply could lift copper to $9,500 a tonne on average in the last quarter of this year, analysts at Bank of America said.

CHINA INFECTIONS: China's blue-chip share index slumped, however, as the country reported its biggest jump in coronavirus cases in more than 10 months.

ZINC: ING's Yao said zinc demand was at most risk because much steel galvanising is done in the area of the outbreak. LME zinc was down 0.9pc at $2,747.50 a tonne.

CHINA ECONOMY: A major outbreak could blunt China's economic recovery, which analysts say likely accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2020.

CHINA TRADE: Chinese exports grew more than expected in December. Copper and iron ore imports reached a record high for the full year while aluminium exports fell.

NICKEL: Benchmark nickel was up 3.4pc at $18,275, a level not seen since September 2019.

The halt of some mining in the Philippines has lifted prices.

CHINA OUTPUT: China's refined nickel production rose 1.4pc last year, researchers Antaike said.

OTHER METALS: Aluminium was down 0.2pc at $2,008.50 a tonne, lead fell 1.1pc to $2,028.50 and tin was unchanged at $21,035.

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