February 17, 2020 / 12:17 PM / in 2 months

METALS-China stimulus helps copper to three-week high

    * Premium for cash over three-month lead at three-week high
    * Lead stocks hover near 10-year lows

 (Adds closing prices)
    By Pratima Desai
    LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Copper prices climbed to
three-week peaks on Monday after top consumer China cut interest
rates to offset the economic damage from the coronavirus, though
worries over demand for industrial metals capped gains.
    Benchmark copper         on the London Metal Exchange (LME)
was untraded at the close but bid up 0.9% to $5,811 a tonne. The
metal viewed by investors as a gauge of economic health earlier
touched $5,828.50, its highest since Jan. 27.
    "Copper has recovered some lost ground, but metals markets
are taking a more cautious view than equity markets," said
Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke, adding that it would be
difficult to translate economic stimulus into metals demand at
this stage.
    "People are not working, so they are not making things to
sell. The impact of the virus is going to be negative, but we
don't know what the eventual cost will be."
    
    CHINA: China's central bank cut the interest rate on its
medium-term lending to lower borrowing costs and ease financial
strains on companies hit by the coronavirus.             
    The People's Bank of China also said the country's lenders
would tolerate a higher level of bad loans to support businesses
hit by the epidemic, which has killed more than 1,700 people and
infected about 70,550 in China.             
    DATA: New home prices in China grew at their weakest pace in
nearly two years in January as the economy slowed and the
country's property market ground to a standstill.             
    COPPER STOCKS: In a sign of stalled activity in China's
manufacturing sector, base metal stocks in warehouses monitored
by the Shanghai Futures Exchange are rising. 
    Copper stocks, at more than 262,000 tonnes, are at their
highest since mid-March and nearly double the level on Jan. 19.
    EQUITIES: Global shares rose on the promise of further
policy stimulus to counteract the economic impact of the
coronavirus.            
    China's finance minister said proactive fiscal policy will
help to buffer downward pressure on the economy and that
targeted, phased tax and fee cuts would be rolled out to help
businesses.             
    LEAD: Worries about nearby supplies on the LME market have
pushed the premium for the cash contract over the three-month
lead contract CMPB0-3 to a three-week high of nearly $24 a
tonne.
    One reason behind that concern are stocks at historical lows
MPBSTX-TOTAL and one company holding large amounts of warrants
and cash contracts for the battery metal <0#LME-WHC>.
    Three-month lead         ended flat at $1,873 a tonne.
    OTHER METALS: Aluminium         was down 0.1% at $1,721 a
tonne, zinc         gained 1.1% to 2,172, tin         added 0.4%
to $16,600 and nickel         rose 0.7% to $13,110.

 (Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by David Goodman and Jan
Harvey)
  
 
 
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