Strengthening dollar curbs copper rebound

Copper was up by more than 1 per cent for the week as fears of conflict in the Middle East diminished and exchange inventories continued to dwindle, though prices were kept in check by a stronger US dollar.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose 0.3 per cent to $US6,198 a tonne in final open-outcry trading and had gained 1.1 per cent this week. It had dropped 1.4 per cent the previous week after a US air strike killed an Iranian commander and Tehran threatened revenge.

“After the Iran issue calmed down, investors’ risk appetite returned to copper,” said ING analyst Wenyu Yao. “Inventory has been drawn down, supporting prices, but the upside momentum is weakened by a strengthening dollar.”

The dollar was up 0.6 per cent this week against a basket of major currencies, making metals priced in the greenback more expensive for buyers with other currencies and potentially weakening demand.

Global shares set record highs on Friday as investors cheered an apparent de-escalation in US-Iran tensions and looked instead to prospects of improved economic growth.

The US dollar is likely to remain strong this year, Reuters polling of FX strategists found.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday a phase one trade deal with China could be signed shortly after January 15.

US job growth slowed more than expected in December, but the pace of hiring remains more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track despite a deepening downturn in manufacturing.

The jobs data will probably not change the Federal Reserve’s assessment that both the economy and monetary policy are in a “good place.” Fed officials had said the economy may have weathered the worst.

Core machinery orders in Japan are likely to have risen in November after four months of decline, a Reuters poll showed.

Headline inventories in LME-registered warehouses fell by 3,100 tonnes to 132,725 tonnes, down from nearly 340,000 tonnes in August.

Stocks in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 5.4 per cent from last Friday to 133,745 tonnes.

Speculators reduced their bets on lower prices. Their net short in LME copper had fallen to 6.5 per cent of open contracts by Tuesday, from 17 per cent late last month, broker Marex Spectron said.

Indonesia’s December exports of refined tin rose 23 per cent year-on-year to 6,447 tonnes, data showed.

Metals maker Norsk Hydro said it expected its sales of low-carbon aluminium made from recycled drink cans and other scrap to more than double this year and to increase further in 2021 and beyond.

LME aluminium rose 0.1 per cent in closing rings to $US1,806 a tonne; zinc eased 0.1 per cent to $US2,375; lead added 0.1 per cent to $US1,931; nickel advanced 0.8 per cent to $US14,190; and tin, untraded in rings, was bid down 0.2 per cent at $US17,225.

All but aluminium were up over the week.

AAP

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