May 2, 2018 / 11:02 AM / 24 days ago

METALS-Copper, nickel bounce off lows after China factory data, steel rally

* LME/ShFE arb: bit.ly/2wZSAEz

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Adds closing prices, details)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) - Copper and nickel bounced off multi-week lows on Wednesday as Chinese steel prices soared and a private survey showed growth in China’s manufacturing sector unexpectedly picked up in April.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index (PMI) climbed to 51.1, from a four-month low of 51.0 in March, and topped economists’ forecasts.

But the same survey showed a sub-index on export orders shrinking for the first time since November 2016. An official PMI survey on Monday also showed slower shipment orders last month.

“The PMI (data) doesn’t bode well for activity in the coming months,” said Caroline Bain, senior commodities economist at Capital Economics.

“We’re not expecting metals to fall off a cliff, we just think they could drift lower in the second half. There’s a risk we’ve peaked with the global economy.”

COPPER, NICKEL: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange ended up 1.1 percent at $6,820 per tonne, after hitting $6,710 on Tuesday, its weakest since April 4. Nickel closed up 2.4 percent at $13,980, after hitting its lowest since April 12 on Tuesday.

CHINA STEEL: China’s steel rebar futures soared to their highest in eight weeks, buoyed by a firm physical market and falling inventories.

U.S. TRADE EU: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the European Union will not accept threats in talks with the United States to secure a permanent exemption from U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminium.

U.S. TRADE BRAZIL: Brazil contradicted a U.S. announcement that the two countries had reached a deal on a permanent exemption from steel and aluminum import tariffs, saying the Trump administration had unilaterally cut off talks.

RUSAL: The U.S. Treasury gave investors an additional month to divest or transfer their holdings in sanctions targets En+ Group Plc, GAZ Group and Rusal Plc , Russia’s largest aluminium producer.

ALUMINIUM: Aluminium closed up 2.7 percent at $2,322 a tonne. Prices hit a seven-year peak of $2,718 on April 19 after the United States imposed sanctions on Rusal.

ALUMINIUM STOCKS: On-warrant or available LME aluminium stocks have fallen to 880,350 tonnes, close to the their lowest number since 2007.

COLUMN-Sanctions turmoil exposes alumina pricing fragility

GLOBAL MARKETS: The U.S. dollar rose to four-month highs and world stock indexes mostly edged lower amid expectations the Federal Reserve will sound more hawkish on policy tightening.

OTHER METALS: Zinc closed down 0.2 percent at $3,047 a tonne, lead ended down 1 percent at $2,270 while tin closed down 0.6 percent at $21,080.

Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Dale Hudson, Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman

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