Copper has rebounded from 18-month lows earlier this month below $6,800 a tonne but is still 13 percent off its 2013 high hit in February. “We are still drawing some support from an early pullback in the dollar and equities holding up, and the only positive fundamental development is shrinking copper inventories on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE),” VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov said.
Stocks of copper in warehouses registered with the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell last week by 4,713 tonnes to 190,330 tonnes, data showed. Stocks of the metal in the Asian warehouses have been declining since the end of March, and this could indicate the market is not as oversupplied as previously thought. Copper inventories in LME-registered warehouses also fell, by 1,925 tonnes to 628,025 tonnes, daily data showed on Monday, but still remain close to a 10 year high hit earlier this year. Earlier on Monday, copper had fallen 1 percent to a session low of $7,232.25 a tonne before reversing direction. “We’re drifting. The macro sentiment isn’t great, so that’s not providing us much direction one way or the other. The data’s been pretty mixed … so we’re kind of in this macro mire,” said analyst Gayle Berry at Barclays in London.
Investors have been disappointed by recent economic growth and manufacturing data in top metals consumer China, which affect the demand outlook. “Despite the physical demand for copper clearly waning, the reduction in offered material could provide a natural level of support from the region for the short term,” analyst George Adcock at broker Marex Spectron said in a note, adding that Chinese factories were reluctant to liquidate inventories at current prices.
Among other metals, nickel rose almost 2 percent to $15,115 a tonne. Standard Bank downgraded its average 2013 nickel price forecast to $16,350 a tonne from $17,700, saying the metal used in stainless steel had the worst fundamental outlook. “Nickel (is) taking over from perpetually oversupplied aluminium and zinc as the one with the biggest surplus, at least this year,” analyst Leon Westgate said in a note. “(The surplus) is equivalent to 3.8 percent of global consumption. This is by far the largest ratio of all the base metals, with aluminium and zinc at 1.3 percent and 1.0 percent respectively.”
In March, the global nickel market was in surplus by 9,800 tonnes in March 2013, down from a surplus of 10,200 tonnes in February, the International Nickel Study Group said. Aluminium rose 0.6 percent to $1,861 a tonne, zinc gained 0.9 percent to $1,853 and lead added 1.2 percent to $2,040. Tin rose 1.8 percent to $21,355 a tonne.