Copper gains, tight supplies in focus
Copper rose on Thursday as support from persistent supply concerns and a bout of upbeat US data offset investor worries about the potential of sovereign debt problems spreading in the euro-zone. Copper for three-months delivery on the London Metal Exchange closed at $8,340 a tonne, up from Wednesday’s last bid of $8,250. The metal, used in power and construction, earlier hit a high at $8,345. “The underlying fundamentals are still pretty good,” said BNP Paribas analyst Stephen Briggs. “It’s prospective tight supply. It’s not that tight today, but the likelihood is the market will be very tight next year.”In other base metals, battery material lead rallied about five per cent, tracking a wider rally in base metals, while traders also cited technical buying in holiday-thinned trade.
Lead, which hit its highest in almost a week at $2,334 a tonne, closed at $2,331 a tonne, up from a close of $2,222.
“It’s copper that drives things, so the other base metals are benefitting from the very bullish outlook for copper,” Briggs said.
The premium for cash copper over the three-month contract hit $41, its highest since October 2008, with a trader saying short positions for the December contract scrambled to find material.
Meanwhile, investors kept an eye on a dominant position controlling between 50-80 per cent of cash warrants for both copper and nickel, subject to LME lending guidance. Nickel hit a ten-day high at $22,875 a tonne, its highest since Nov. 15.
Investors were edgy, with the euro near a two-month low as the euro-zone debt crisis showed little signs of abating, with fears of contagion still high after Ireland unveiled an ambitious austerity plan.
Investors worried that demand from top metals consumer China may soften, as it battles to stem inflation. The country might have to raise inflation targets for next year.
Among other base metals, aluminium closed at $2,281 from $2,259 a tonne on Wednesday, while zinc ended at $2,200 a tonne from $2,122 a tonne.
Tin was untraded at the close but last quoted at $24,300/$24,350 a tonne versus $24,300 at the close on Wednesday, and nickel was untraded but last quoted $22,800/$22,825 a tonne from $22,500. -Reuters