LME MORNING - Metals wobble again, copper flirts with three-week lows

By: Martin Hayes

London 10/10/2013 - Base metals trading was tentative during Thursday's LME premarket, with half-hearted attempts at stability following the previous session's late-sell-off, traders said.

"The near-term outlooks are for more range-trading across the base metals - copper headed lower yesterday so prices are once again testing support," William Adams of FastMarkets said.

The bias within the current broad ranges was to the downside. Copper, which fell two percent on Wednesday to three-week lows, was again testing those levels, while most other metals were not far off their lows for the week.

"The chat this [LME Dinner] week is that copper is looking to be in a sizeable surplus next year. As the week has gone on, it just put a bit of pressure on the price," a trader said.

In other markets, the dollar was sustaining a bounce off recent eight-month lows and holding around 1.3505 against the euro.

"But for the short term, nothing is really different - all markets are waiting for the US to get its [political] act in gear," the trader said.

The US political stalemate over the October 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling remains the key element of uncertainty, while politicians continue to argue over the 2013/2014 budget, which has caused a partial shutdown of government.

"We still would not be surprised if we get a relief rally should the impasse in Washington be kicked down the road but if the stalemate continues then we should be prepared for a more broad-based period of risk reduction," Adams said.

The release of the Federal Open Market Committee September meeting minutes overnight also showed divided views behind the decision last month not to start to taper the Fed's quantitative easing programme.

For today, US data in focus will be the usual weekly jobless claims figures, while on the monetary front no change in interest rates is anticipated by the UK BoE or ECB, which both have meetings today.

In the metals, copper dived as low as $7,088, just $1 off the low hit on Wednesday, and traded recently at $7,101, up just $1 from yesterday. In warehouse data, stocks notched up their 26th daily decline - inventories were down a net 3,125 tonnes at 512,450 tonnes, the lowest since early-March again.

Aluminium traded at $1,869, a $9 advance - inventories fell for the 15th day in a row, down 7,200 tonnes at a four-month low of 5,334,075 tonnes.

Zinc business at $1,892 was $12 higher, while stocks were down 4,825 tonnes at 997,900 tonnes. Lead gained $3 at $2,078, with stocks edging up 300 tonnes to 236,725 tonnes.

Nickel rose to $13,772 from a previous $13,660 after inventories fell from what were all-time highs, slipping 234 tonnes to 228,996 tonnes. Tin eased $75 to $23,325, while stocks were unchanged at a nine-month low of 12,835 tonnes.

Steel billet was neglected, with stocks holding at 21,970 tonnes, the lowest since June 2010. Both cobalt and molybdenum were neglected as well.

(Editing by Mark Shaw)