Home World Business Copper lifts as China trade data bolsters demand outlook

Copper lifts as China trade data bolsters demand outlook

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Copper prices rebounded from their lowest level in three months, helped by a weaker US dollar and upbeat trade data from China, the largest consumer of the metal, that spurred hopes for higher demand.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed 1.1 per cent higher at $US5692 tonne, after falling to its lowest since January 10 in the previous session.

Zinc ingots cool in the rotary foundry room at the Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Zinc ingots cool in the rotary foundry room at the Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Photo: Andrey Rudakov

“The China data definitely shows a recovery from recent lows, so its not surprising to see prices higher,” said Eugene Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank.

China’s 2017 export outlook brightened considerably after it reported forecast-beating trade growth in March and US President Donald Trump softened his anti-China rhetoric in an abrupt policy shift.

China’s imports of copper rose 26.5 per cent from month ago to 430,000 tonnes in March, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

The dollar index slid to a two-week low after Trump said it was too strong. A lower US currency makes dollar-denominated metals cheaper for holders of other currencies, which could boost demand.

Copper support seen at Wednesday’s low around $US5600/15, a breach could see a test of $US5500. Resistance seen at $US5800 near the 100-day moving average.

China’s central bank has been quietly boosting its policy independence and regulatory reach as it seeks to contain risks to the financial system, policy insiders said, helping ensure stability before a five-yearly leadership team transition this year.

Losses amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars appear to be pushing Indonesia and miner Freeport McMoRan to resolve a row that has crippled operations at Grasberg for three months.

Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, faces a fresh threat of labour action when a union at the large Chuquicamata mine said it had blocked access as a “warning” over planned changes to job opportunities.

The global zinc market moved into a surplus of 19,800 tonnes in February from a deficit of 22,300 tonnes in January, data from the International Lead and Zinc Study Group showed.

China exported 410,000 tonnes of unwrought aluminium and aluminium products, up from February’s 260,000 tonnes. China’s aluminium makers have stepped up exports as a healthier global manufacturing climate and declining world stockpiles boost demand.

LME aluminium gained 0.6 per cent to $US1910, nickel inched 0.1 per cent lower to $US9750, while tin was up 1 per cent at $US19,605. Lead fell 0.1 per cent to $US2239. Zinc fell 0.7 per cent to $US2624, edging close to January lows touched this week.

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