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Tin premiums hold steady as LME rises

Keywords: Tags  tin, delivered premiums, Grade A tin, tin traders, tin demand, port strike, Chris Prentice

NEW YORK — Delivered premiums for Grade A tin have remained stable amid a run-up in prices on the London Metal Exchange as demand resumes a slow pace and sources report minimal spot buying.

"It’s starting off slow. It’s a little better than December, but December was pretty bad," one trader said of January tin business so far.

A tin buyer agreed that year-end activity was slow, noting that while business picked up slightly in the first few trading days of the new year, the uptick nonetheless was nothing to write home about.

"We were a little slower in December, and we picked up here in the start of the new year," another tin buyer said. "We’re hoping it continues."

With little new activity, premiums for Grade A tin remain unchanged at $600 to $750 per tonne, although the recent run-up in LME tin prices had at least some consumers seeking lower premiums in order to compensate for the higher cost of the metal, sources said.

Three-month tin settled at $24,725 per tonne in official trading Friday on the LME, up 5.6 percent from $23,405 at the end of December and well above fourth-quarter lows below $20,000 per tonne in October.

Meanwhile, earlier concern over potential port strikes has waned for most market sources. With tin a major import product, market players had worried that a threatened walkout by the International Longshoremen’s Association could disrupt supply, but an extension of the deadline for contract negotiations to the start of February (, Dec. 28) has temporarily abated those concerns, sources said.

"They’ve kicked the can down the road, but I think it’s going to be resolved," the trader said, noting that limited business suggests most consumers are not particularly concerned about future supply.

Still, some said they remain wary. "I know people really have their eye on whether that will cause a shortage," a tin buyer said.

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