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Wednesday 12

December, 201812:01 PM



Copper at two-month high after trade truce

Copper at two-month high after trade truce

Industrial metals jumped overnight with copper prices hitting a two-month high on the back of the US-China trade truce.

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By AAP 04.12.2018 07:43 AM

Prices of industrial metals rose overnight with copper hitting a two-month high, after the United States and China agreed to a truce in a trade dispute that has undermined confidence in economic growth prospects.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended up 1.6 per cent at $US6,295 a tonne.

Prices of the metal used as a gauge of global economic health hit $US6,352 in early trading, its highest since October 4.

"The mood turned positive after China and the United States announced their truce, but I'm not sure it will last; there are too many differences to overcome," said Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg.

A weaker dollar was another positive influence, he added.

Washington and Beijing agreed in Argentina to halt additional tariffs in a deal that keeps their trade war from escalating as the two sides try again to bridge their differences within 90 days.

"We cannot get too excited about prospects for metals," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

"Trade issues will continue to dog the global economy for much of the year.

"The Argentina agreement is not going to be a significant game-changer."

Meir said low inventories across most metals could be a "bullish catalyst", but the inventory argument would become difficult to sustain with the prospect of a deteriorating macroeconomic outlook next year.

A lower US currency makes dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies - a relationship used by funds to generate buy and sell signals from mathematical models.

US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last week said interest rates were now "just below" estimates of a level that neither brakes nor boosts a healthy US economy, comments that many investors read as signalling the tightening cycle is drawing to a close.

Industrial metal price gains were capped to an extent by a survey showing China's factory activity grew slightly in November, while new export orders extended their decline.

China accounts for about half of global demand for base metals.

Worries about zinc supplies on the LME market have been fuelled by inventories in LME-approved warehouses.

Inventories have more than halved since August to 112,575 tonnes, their lowest since 2008.

This nervousness is why the premium for cash LME zinc over the three-month price soared to $US113 a tonne on Friday, its highest since 1997.

It was last around $US87 a tonne.

Three-month zinc was up 1.6 per cent at $US2,583.

Aluminium closed 1.1 per cent higher at $US1,974 a tonne, lead slipped 0.3 per cent to $US1,964.5, tin rose 2.5 per cent to $US18,865 and nickel was up 0.5 per cent at $US11,250.

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