LME MORNING - Base metals in holding pattern, copper price steady above $7,000/t

By: Kathleen Retourne

London 06/08/2013 - Base metals were mixed in Tuesday’s premarket, with copper and tin tracking higher while the rest languished in a sideways trading pattern.

The immediate lack of significant short-term incentives from news or data has left the complex lacking direction and follow-through to Friday's strength, which resulted in a drift back from last week's multi-week highs.

"Buying momentum [has] waned ahead of China’s data-dump at the end of this week," broker ANZ noted.

“Market participants are likely to remain cautious ahead of Chinese economic data later this week, and we think that price risks are skewed to the downside,” Credit Suisse added.

The Chinese will release virtually all their headline monthly data on Friday.

“With the new leadership reluctant to add broad stimulus measures to the economy because of growing downside risks, poor data could well test its resolve in the run-up to the 18th National Congress in September,” FastMarkets analyst Jono Remington-Hobbs said.

Today’s scheduled figures are unlikely to have much bearing. UK manufacturing production rose 1.9 percent in July, beating the forecast 0.9 percent, and the Halifax house prices index was up a better-than-expected 0.9 percent.

Italian preliminary second-quarter GDP at -0.2 percent was better than the expected -0.4 percent but industrial production at 0.3 percent missed the predicted rise of 0.5 percent.

Later, the market awaits German factory orders, forecast at 1.1 percent; the US trade balance, with a deficit of $43.1 billion expected; and the IBD/TIPP economic index.

Copper at $7,076 per tonne was at a session high and up $101 on the previous day’s close. Stocks slipped a net 1,775 tonnes to 605,125 tonnes and cancelled warrants at 322,600 tonnes were down 1,700 tonnes.

Aluminium was stuck in a sideways trend - it was last $4 higher at $1,804. Stocks jumped 13,950 tonnes to 5,480,625 tonnes, with the Detroit total rising 18,175 tonnes to 2,081,800 tonnes. Meanwhile, cancelled warrants dropped 6,375 tonnes to 2,111,650 tonnes.  

Lead was $9 higher at $2,131 even after stocks rose 425 tonnes to 200,200 tonnes and cancelled warrants fell 550 tonnes to 106,650 were down. Zinc was unchanged at $1,869 - stocks and cancelled warrants both dropped 3,100 tonnes to 1,055,300 tonnes and 604,900 tonnes respectively.

Nickel was $75 lower at $13,950 after the upward trend in stocks restarted - these rose 696 tonnes to 204,906 tonnes today, a fresh all-time high. Cancelled warrants also rose, reaching 32,382 tonnes. Tin gained $134 to $21,359 - stocks were down 70 tonnes at 13,775 tonnes.   

Steel was indicated at $120/199 after stocks dropped for the 17th consecutive day, down 2,080 tonnes at 43,875 - the lowest since July 25, 2012.

In the minor metals, cobalt was neglected; stocks and inventories both slipped one tonne to 501 tonnes and 132 tonnes respectively. Molybdenum was indicated at $20,200/21,100.

(Additional reporting by Martin Hayes, editing by Mark Shaw)