Copper has inched up for its first weekly rise in five weeks as gains on global equity markets rekindled interest in riskier assets and a weaker dollar made metal cheaper for buyers with other currencies.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed up 0.2 per cent at $US5,997 a tonne and around 0.2 per cent higher for the week.
Still, concerns over slowing economic growth in China, the biggest metals consumer, have left copper down 17 per cent over the year as a whole.
‘We have a weaker dollar and equities rebounding, and that’s likely lifting metals,’ said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.
But weaker Chinese demand for copper meant prices would likely remain around current levels through next year, he added.
China’s manufacturing sector is expected to have contracted for the first time in more than two years in December, a poll found.
Data this week showed earnings at Chinese industrial firms in November dropped for the first time in nearly three years.
China and the United States plan face-to-face consultations on trade in January, the Chinese commerce ministry said.
Worries that trade tariffs will curtail demand for metals have dragged prices lower this year.
The dollar has weakened from its recent 18-month high against a basket of major rivals, easing pressure on metal prices, while global equities have regained some ground after a sell-off.
A rebalancing of asset allocations by benchmark indexes in early January will see significant buying of aluminium, zinc and Comex copper, analysts at Citi said in a note.
China’s top copper smelters raised their floor treatment and refining charges for the first quarter of 2019 by 2.2 per cent, sources said. Higher charges indicate a well-supplied copper concentrate market.
Chilean miner Collahuasi – which produced an estimated 545,000 tonnes of copper this year – has applied for an environmental permit to extend the life of its deposit with an estimated $US3.2 billion investment.
LME aluminium ended down 0.4 per cent at $US1,845 a tonne and down more than three per cent this week – the biggest weekly loss since October – after Russian producer Rusal agreed a deal to remove it from a US sanctions list and appointed a new chairman.
Cash aluminium flipped from a discount to a $US11.75 a tonne premium over the three-month contract, likely signalling greater availability of nearby supplies.
LME zinc closed down 2.2 per cent at $US2,440 a tonne, nickel finished 0.4 per cent lower at $US10,730, lead gained 1.5 per cent to $US2,060 and tin rose 1 per cent to $US19,495.