Copper rose from a two-week low overnight due to signs of an easing in tensions in the US-China trade conflict but a lack of a firm resolution kept a lid on the tepid gains.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) ended 0.3 per cent higher at $US6,125 per tonne, its first rise in five sessions.
‘There is an element of optimism but the market is a bit more wait-and-see and seems a bit exhausted,’ ETF Securities analyst Nitesh Shah said.
‘If there is something more concrete from the trade talks – and not just moving timelines around, an actual agreement with a plan – then we might have something more firm from prices.’
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks with China went well on Wednesday, as the world’s two largest economies try to iron out an agreement to resolve their trade dispute.
On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said he could let the deadline for a trade agreement ‘slide for a little while’.
If a trade deal cannot be reached by the deadline of March 1, US tariffs on $US200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.
On-warrant stocks of copper available to the market in LME-registered warehouses were at 74,750 tonnes, close to a 2005 low touched in October.
‘Copper demand is sufficiently strong to support prices at these levels, slightly above $US6,100, but it’s not strong enough to push them further without any major broad-based metal-intensive stimulus in China,’ Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke said.
Floods in Queensland are set to disrupt the rail delivery of zinc exports to the northern port of Townsville, with the line likely to be out of action for at least a month, analysts said on Wednesday.
Townsville port ships about 40 per cent of Australia’s zinc production, equal to about 700,000 tonnes a year or 5 per cent of global supply.
LME zinc stocks are at their lowest since January 2008, but cash zinc was trading at a discount of $US6.25 a tonne to the three-month price , down from a premium of $US125 in early December, in a sign of weaker immediate demand.
LME tin added 0.8 per cent to $US21,100 per tonne, after touching its highest since April 2018.
The LME on Tuesday suspended the MSP tin brand, reinforcing worries about tight supplies on the LME market where stocks are close to record lows at 1,440 tonnes.
Aluminium ended barely changed at $US1,860 per tonne, zinc was down 0.4 per cent to $US2,597, lead was down 0.7 per cent to $2,020 while nickel finished marginally softer at $US12,405.