Copper rebounds after Fed taper losses, U.S. GDP supports

December 20, 2013

London (Dec 20)    Copper rose on Friday after suffering its biggest fall in three weeks during the previous session, as investors absorbed the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision this week to start curbing its stimulus.

Also brightening the outlook for the metal was an unexpectedly strong report on U.S. growth boosted investor confidence that the economy could support a wind-down of the Fed's bond buying.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was last bid up 0.51 percent at $7,238 a tonne, still below its two-month high of $7,290 hit on Monday.

The whole base metals complex pared losses sustained after the U.S. central bank ended months of market jitters by trimming its monthly bond purchases, which have flooded the market with cheap dollars, many of which found their way into riskier assets and commodities.

"In isolation really, metals reacted negatively yesterday to news of the Fed tapering," said BNP Paribas strategist Stephen Briggs.

"But when you look around ... wider financial markets have taken it in their stride really, and so perhaps market thinking this morning (is) the reaction was a bit overdone."

Copper, used in power and construction, was also helped by declining stocks of the metal, which highlights tightness in near-term supply.

Inventories in LME-monitored warehouses fell 1,375 tonnes to 382,550 tonnes, the lowest level in more than 10 months, latest exchange data showed.

Stocks of copper in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange also fell: they were 8.4 percent down from last Friday at 131,128 tonnes, the exchange said on Friday.


In China, much copper is being used for financing instead of being consumed by end-users.

Chinese firms have used copper imports for years as a means to obtain loans, and some banks have also been allowing companies to use copper stored in LME warehouses.

That is particularly evident at this time given tight liquidity conditions in China which have sent benchmark interbank rates surging, according to UOB-Kay Hian Securities analyst Helen Lau said.

"I don't think the current copper price is sustainable because if liquidity remains tight, that will eventually lead to a decline in end-user demand," she said.

Zinc was the biggest gainer, last bid up 2.49 percent at $2,039 a tonne and marking a fresh 9-1/2 month high as supply tightness concerns continued to support prices.

Earlier, China's MMG Ltd said a new zinc mine in Australia will miss its startup date due to technical issues, potentially triggering a global supply pinch.

In Indonesia, the world's top exporter of nickel ore, thermal coal and refined tin, the government is re-examining provisions in a mining law that would ban exports of unprocessed metal ores from next year.

Indonesia's plan to ban exports of unrefined nickel and other minerals could drive up shipping costs as Chinese importers seek new supplies from more distant sources such as Australia and New Caledonia.

Nickel ended up 1.62 percent at $14,420 a tonne, tin rose 0.44 percent at $22,950 a tonne, aluminium ended up 0.65 percent at $1,785 a tonne, while lead rose 1.93 percent to end at $2,216 a tonne, having earlier hit its highest since late October at $2,217.50

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