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Copper prices climbed to their highest since July on Friday as inventories tumbled and investors bet on a US-China trade deal.

Optimism over a trade deal has been rising as top US.and Chinese trade negotiators haggle over the details of a set of agreements aimed at ending their trade war.

‘Copper is getting a lot of momentum from the trade talks. If we get a deal, there wouldn’t be much obstacle for copper to return to the low $US7,000s,’ said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, partner at consultancy T-Commodity in Milan.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange has broken the key level of $US6,400 a tonne, which marks the upper boundary of a range that has held for the past six months, he added.

‘If this is confirmed today on the weekly chart with a close above $US6,400, it would mark the start of a new bull cycle for copper.’

LME copper gained 1.6 per cent in closing open outcry trading to $US6,478 a tonne, its highest since July 4.

The metal, widely used in construction and manufacturing, posted a 4.6 per cent gain this week, its biggest weekly jump since the week ended September 21 last year.

On-warrant LME copper inventories , those not earmarked for delivery, slumped by nearly half to 39,800 tonnes in one day, the lowest since August 2005, LME data showed on Friday.

LME aluminium gained 0.4 per cent to finish at a two-week high of $US1,913 a tonne.

Recent gains have been driven by speculators covering short positions, Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.

The LME net speculative short position accounted for 17.6 per cent of open interest, according the Marex estimates.

Falling LME zinc inventories, hovering at the lowest levels in more than a decade, may spur prices higher, metals strategist Michael Widmer at Bank of American Merrill Lynch said in a note.

‘With inventories so low, it is easier for market participants to take a dominant position, which in turn could lead to prices squeezing violently higher.’

LME nickel climbed 1.1 per cent to end at a two-week high of $US12,990 a tonne after on-warrant LME inventories fell to 128,580 tonnes, the lowest since February 2013.

Zinc gained 1.5 per cent to close at $US2,724 a tonne, lead added 0.4 per cent to $US2,075 and tin rose 0.3 per cent to $US21,495.