Aluminium gains on China stimulus hopes as nickel chaos continues

Publish March 18, 2022
real estate

Demand for both aluminium and copper is likely to be boosted

Aluminium prices rose on Thursday as hopes of economic stimulus in leading global consumer China lifted global stock markets, while the London Metal Exchange's efforts to resume nickel trading remained chaotic.

Benchmark aluminium on the LME was up 1.7% at $3,315 a tonne in official trading. Prices have see-sawed since Ukraine was invaded by Russia, which produces 6% of global supply, hitting $4,073.50 on March 7 and $3,219.50 on March 15.

'There are visible signs of China decelerating and that is likely to hit overall demand,' said WisdomTree analyst Nitesh Shah.

Against that, demand for both aluminium and copper is likely to be boosted as energy transition comes into sharper focus, especially in Europe, Shah said.

He said that industrial metals would be undersupplied 'pretty much across the board' this year and predicted higher prices.

MARKETS: European and U.S. stock markets were muted but Asian markets made strong gains after China signalled more support for its spluttering economy.

CORONAVIRUS: Adding to positive sentiment, new cases of people with COVID-19 and showing symptoms of the disease in mainland China declined for a second day.

NICKEL: LME nickel fell 8% to $41,945 a tonne - the maximum allowed under new LME rules - as soon as the market opened, with only eight contracts traded.

Trading has made a chaotic resumption after being suspended last week when a short squeeze sent prices above $100,000. Nickel currently costs around $35,000 on the Shanghai Futures Exchange.

RUSSIA: The invasion of Ukraine entered its fourth week, with limited progress in peace talks.

The conflict has disrupted Russian and Ukrainian commodity exports and raised the cost of energy used by metals smelters.

GLOBAL ECONOMY: The Ukraine crisis could knock more than 1% off global economic growth this year and add 2.5% to inflation, the OECD said.

JAPAN: Core machinery orders in Japan slipped in January for the first time in five months.

INTEREST RATES: Investors are racing to work out how much monetary policy tightening the economy can handle as the U.S. Federal Reserve embarks on its rate-hike cycle.

METALS PRICES: Benchmark copper was up 1.1% at $10,167 a tonne, zinc fell 0.2% to $3,802, lead was flat at $2,252 and tin was down 1.1% at $41,800.

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