LME MORNING - Base metals steady, look to wider markets for direction

By: Kathleen Retourne

London 29/08/2013 - Base metals were lacklustre in Thursday’s premarket, with little change in prices and stocks.

The market is in a holding pattern while eyeing political tension in Syria and with closely watched US data numbers due for release this afternoon.

“Market participants appear to be cautious ahead of September on the potential tapering of US stimulus program[me], despite other markets rallying on increased geopolitical risk tensions,” ANZ Capital Markets said.

The growing political conflict in Syria is playing on market sentiment but, while other commodities such as gold - which hit a three-month high on Wednesday - and oil have rallied, moves in the industrial metals have been more subdued.

Around 100,000 people have died in Syria since the start of a popular uprising, which President Bashar al-Assad seemingly intent on crushing, allegedly using chemical weapons in an attack on rebels in Damascus last week - a move roundly condemned by governments around the world.

Datawise, the German unemployment change came in at 7,000, while the eurozone retail PMI at 50.3 beat the previous month’s reading of 49.5.

Due later are US weekly initial jobless claims and the second estimate on US preliminary GDP growth for the second quarter, which is seen at 2.2 percent - both datasets should provide hints on whether its central bank will start to unwind its stimulus measures from next month.

In other market news, Indonesia's industry minister has proposed amendments to the 2014 ban on unprocessed exports.

“The revision would mean companies with smelters under construction would be allowed to export unprocessed minerals but would be charged progressive duty as their smelters are completed,” Triland said in a note.

In the metals, copper at $7,245 per tonne was down $45 on the previous day’s close after stocks rose a net 2,850 tonnes to 577,675 tonnes and cancelled warrants fell 280,050 tonnes to 2,500 tonnes.

Aluminium fell $12.50 to $1,852 despite a 5,925-tonne drawdown in stocks to 5,407,050 tonnes - the lowest since June 19.  Detroit has been responsible for the drop, with inventories there falling a net 27,750 tonnes over the past 10 weeks.

Nickel at $14,110 was down 465 after a 108-tonne drawdown in inventories to 212,220 tonnes. Lead dropped to $2,196.50, a $16.50 decline, after stocks rose 250 tonnes to 186,200 tonnes and zinc at $1,941 was down $17 although inventories fell 4,425 tonnes to 1,010,400 tonnes.

Tin at $21,475 was $175 lower after stocks rose 50 tonnes to 15,290 tonnes but cancelled warrants rose 200 tonnes to 4,490 tonnes

Steel was indicated at a wide $100/200 - stocks and cancelled warrants both dropped 195 tonnes to 38,740 tonnes and 24,440 tonnes respectively.

In the minor metals, cobalt and molybdenum were unquoted but there was a 17-tonne increase in stocks of the former in Rotterdam, taking global inventories to 543 tonnes.

(Editing by Mark Shaw)