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Difficulties in forging a direction.

Byline: Andrew Kerr

The fact that the London Metal Exchange is currently a market looking for fresh direction was well illustrated last week when only marginal price changes had taken place when last Friday's closing prices were compared with those of the week before.

Five of the seven contracts traded were showing marginal games while those of zinc and nickel remained unchanged.

Copper: Trading generally quietly within $20 daily ranges throughout the week, copper tried to break above the $1,800 per tonne barrier on both Thursday and Friday but failed on both occasions with Friday's kerb close of $1,794 showing a $15 gain from that of the week before. The tightness for March has now eased but may well return for April with a backwardation in evidence.

There is good support in the $1,770 area and eventually the $1,800 will be overcome. Stocks declines by a nett total of 5,175 tonnes.

Aluminium: Erratic trading with no fixed direction saw closing prices see-saw daily with $10 per tonne limits until closing at the top end of Friday's range at $1,608 for a $14 overall gain on the week. The fact that stocks rose daily by a 23,300 tonne total has certainly a dampener upon sentiment while news that Alcoa is planning an immediate cut in smelter production at its Longview, Washington, plant by 70,000 tonnes again concentrated minds upon the level of cutbacks in the States due to power costs. The backwardation narrowed to close at $12 per tonne.

The alloyed contract shrugged off a 2,140 tonne increase in stocks to close $10 up over the week at $1,280.

Zinc: Exceptionally narrow daily ranges saw this market trade between highs on both Thursday and Friday of $1,031 and Friday's low of $1,019 before closing unchanged from t eh previous week at $1,024. Stocks fell by 1,975 tonnes.

Lead: A steady performance with the three-month price still trying to consolidate above the $500 barrier with only the close on Wednesday at $498 Boeing below. Friday's kerb close showed a $4 gain over the week at $504. Stock movements had been two way with a 900 tonne drawdown being the final outcome.

Nickel: Closing the week unchanged at $6,250, the three-month price have made a number of attempts to break out above $6,400 but had always been thwarted by renewed selling. The low last week was $6,170 on Thursday but now further weakness towards support at $6,000 is expected.

Tin: Trading between last Monday's low of $5,150 and Thursday high of $5,240, tin eventually closed $45 up at $5,210. They remain short and there is plenty of Chinese material. Stocks fell by 180 tonnes.
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Title Annotation:Metals Report
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 19, 2001
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