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Markets

Copper gains in thin volumes on buoyant Chinese data

  • Copper hits highest since March 3.
  • Investors cautious ahead of central bank meetings.
Published March 15, 2021
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LONDON: Copper prices gained on Monday after stronger than expected industrial growth in top metals consumer China, but investors were cautious ahead of central bank meetings this week.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.4% at $9,125 a tonne by 1145 GMT, after earlier rising to $9,199.50, the highest since March 3.

"We had some positive Chinese data, which helps to confirm a V-shaped recovery, but volumes are low and there's no real conviction," said Geordie Wilkes, head of research at Sucden Financial.

China's industrial output grew a forecast-beating 35.1% in January-February from a year ago, suggesting a sharp rebound of the world's second-largest economy in the first quarter.

But investors were wary ahead of meetings of the US Federal Reserve and other centrals banks this week, Wilkes said.

The most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended the daytime session 0.7% higher at 67,520 yuan ($10,379.71) a tonne. Earlier in the day, it hit its highest since March 3 at 68,230 yuan.

China's aluminium production rose 8.4% in the first two months of 2021 compared with the same period last year, official data showed, as smelters added new capacity and cashed in on soaring prices.

Commodities trader Trafigura sees a significant supply deficit in the copper market and a prolonged high-price cycle.

Workers at Antofagasta's Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile voted last week to reject the company's latest contract offer, paving the way for a strike.

In Peru, the Glencore-controlled Antapaccay copper mine has announced the suspension of operations due to a road blockade by local communities.

Other metals also advanced. In London, aluminium rose 1.6% to $2,206.50 a tonne, zinc gained 0.7% to $2,824, nickel climbed 1.6% to $16,275, lead added 0.1% to $1,964 while tin fell 0.5% to $25,475.

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