Copper prices rose on Tuesday as worries about growth in top consumer China receded following a report that the country’s chief trade negotiator may visit the United States before a meeting between the two countries’ leaders. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was untraded in official rings, but bid up 0.9 percent at $6,105 a tonne, down from an earlier session high at $6,181. “The panic about Chinese growth and the trade dispute is overdone. Credit conditions are beings loosened, which though positive will take time to feed through to activity,” said Dan Smith, head of commodities research at Oxford Economics. “Volatility is going to remain pretty high because of all the political and economic uncertainty, but copper below $6,000 a tonne is cheap on a five-year view.”
TRADE: China’s top trade negotiator Liu He may visit Washington to prepare for talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina later this month, the South China Morning Post reported. CHINA: China accounts for nearly half of global copper demand estimated around 24 million tonnes this year. Copper is widely used in power and construction and seen by investors as a gauge of economic health. China’s copper imports fell 18.7 percent from a month ago to 423,000 tonnes in October, while those for the Jan-Oct period rose 17 percent to 4.41 million tonnes from the same period last year. NICKEL: Nickel was up 0.9 percent at $11,455 a tonne. Earlier the stainless steel ingredient touched an 11-month low of $11,299 a tonne due to weak fundamentals. “Our base case had expected prices to trade at 90th percentile next year — average at $14,375 a tonne — but unless tightness materialises…there is limited economic reason for marginal nickel producers not to be cash negative,” Citi analysts said in a recent note.
“Since 2012, and as nickel pig-iron output has grown its share, prices have tracked closer to the 75th percentile. At current costs this would suggest prices find support around $11,500 a tonne.” SPREAD: The premium for cash zinc over the 3-month contract at a 1-year high of $67 a tonne is due to a few firms holding substantial amounts of LME zinc warrants and fuelling worries about shortages on the LME market, traders said. The other problem, traders say, is that physical customers are looking for better quality zinc than they are being offered. Zinc was up 0.9 percent at $2,519 a tonne. PRICES: Aluminium slipped 0.3 percent to $1,937.5 a tonne, lead down 0.1 percent at $1,927 and tin fell 0.1 percent to $19,250.