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Copper prices fail to hold $8,300, base metals prices mixed in LME pre-market


Copper prices traded below $8,300 per tonne in pre-market trading on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday May 3 as disappointing economic data weighed on sentiment in Asia and Europe.

Three-month copper was trading at $8,245.5 per tonne at 10:41 BST, down from an opening price of $8,306 per tonne.

After hitting a high of $8,326 per tonne as the electronic market opened, three-month copper prices trended lower throughout the Asian session and hit intraday lows shortly before European markets opened.

The red metal moved higher at the London opening but failed at around $8,293 per tonne and plumbed a fresh intraday low of $8,243.25 per tonne as the European morning progressed.

Sentiment was dampened overnight as markets reacted to disappointing US jobs data and signs of a further slowdown in Europe after the Markit eurozone manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 45.9, from 47.7 in March, its lowest reading since June 2009.

The cash-to-three-month copper spread traded in a $75/90 backwardation in the pre-market session, easing moderately from Wednesday’s closing evaluation of $94 per tonne.

The announcement that Jiangxi Copper and other Chinese smelters will export cathode into Asian LME warehouses to squash the backwardation was once more a focal point in the market.

“It’s the first time we’ve had an alliance of Chinese smelters coming together to tackle the back, and my immediate reaction was that if you’re planning to talk the market down like that, you better have some volumes to back it up,” an analyst in Hong Kong told Metal Bulletin.

Monthly export volumes could match the record 45,000 tonnes delivered out of China in April last year, but it may take around a month for deliveries from Chinese smelters to be delivered into Asian LME warehouses, he said.

Copper stocks in LME-listed locations stood at 235,200 tonnes, down by 3,750 tonnes after deliveries out of ports in Korea, the USA and Belgium.

Other base metals posted a mixed performance in pre-market trading, with zinc, aluminium, lead and tin all losing ground while nickel rebuilt after a weak close on Wednesday.

Three-month nickel traded at $17,468 per tonne at 10:33 BST, up from an opening price of $17,306 per tonne.

The alloying metal traded no lower than its opening price and hit a high of $17,549 per tonne early in the European session.

Nickel stocks in LME-listed warehouses totalled 103,764 tonnes, down by 132 tonnes after a withdrawal from Rotterdam.

Three-month aluminium traded at $2,090 per tonne, down $6.5 per tonne from its opening price.

Aluminium stocks totalled 5,004,200 tonnes, down by 11,300 tonnes after deliveries out across stores across Asia, Europe and the US.

Mark Burton
Twitter: @mburtonmb

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