LONDON: Copper prices climbed on Monday as fears about further damage to growth and demand from the Omicron coronavirus variant were outweighed by low inventories of the industrial metal. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 1.2% at $9,570 a tonne at 1706 GMT, having lost 3.5% on Friday.
“The bullish argument rests on historically low warehouse inventories,” said Neil Welsh, a broker at Britannia Global Markets. “On the bearish side, we have inflation fears, dollar strength and COVID concerns.”
OMICRON: The new coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally, bringing “severe consequences” in some areas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
INVENTORIES: Copper stocks in LME-registered warehouse, at 80,075 tonnes, are about a third of levels registered in late August.
Cancelled warrants - metal earmarked for delivery - at 19% suggest another 15,350 tonnes is heading out.
Worries about copper supplies on the LME market and a scramble for metal has often created a large premium for cash copper over the three-month contract.
DOLLAR: A stronger US currency makes dollar-denominated metals more expensive for holders of other currencies, which is likely to subdue demand.
CHINA: Clues to demand prospects in top consumer China will come from surveys of purchasing managers over the next few days.
A Reuters survey showed China’s factory activity is likely to have shrunk at a slower pace in November.
ZINC: Falling zinc stocks on the LME, down 20% to 161,450 tonnes since April, cancelled warrants at 22% and large warrant holdings have fuelled a jump in the premium for cash zinc over the three-month contract.
The premium was last at $128 a tonne while three-month zinc rose 0.6% to $3,213.
OTHER METALS: Aluminium was up 0.8% at $2,637, lead gained 0.1% to $2,271, tin advanced 1.6% to $39,270 and nickel was up 1.3% at $20,165.
“Shipping disruption continues to frustrate efforts to deliver metal to regions with acute shortages, most notably in Europe and the US, which continue to see strong consumption despite automotive sector slowdowns,” said Tom Mulqueen, analyst at Amalgamated Metal Trading.