METALS-Base metals struggle to find direction on rate cut outlook, weak demand

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 06/12/24 03:41 AM EDT

(Updates prices)

By Mai Nguyen

June 12 (Reuters) -

Moves in the prices of base metals were mixed on Wednesday, as investors and traders bounced between rate cut outlook, supply disruption and weak demand, while short position holders also likely trimmed their exposures ahead of a key U.S. rate announcement.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.6% to $9,815 per metric ton by 0721 GMT, while the most-traded July copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed down 0.3% at 79,880 yuan ($11,012.16) a ton.

LME copper has fallen for three weeks straight but is up 0.5% so far this week. The contract hit its record high of $11,104.50 on May 20.

"Big day today. U.S. inflation data and Fed meeting outcome. Momentum shorts could be lightening their bets," said Sandeep Daga, a director at Metal Intelligence Centre, but noted he expected prices to fall.

"I find fundamental and technical outlook of metals pointing for more downside in the weeks to come. Inflation data and Fed outcome could either accelerate the downside or bring up a spike worth selling into," he said.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to cut rates sometime this year, although it is unclear at what level and when.

"$9,700 is a big number. A break lower could push it to the $8,700-$9,000 range," Daga added.

A trader said physical copper demand has not picked up significantly despite the recent price falls, and added that buyers will purchase more if the copper price falls to $9,500.

However, it is difficult for copper to hit that level because the tightness in mine supply and looming U.S. rate cuts will continue to support prices, the trader said.

"If the price is kept at this level for more than two months, downstream copper users will have to accept. It just needs some time to transmit (the increasing cost) to end users," said the trader.

LME aluminium was almost flat at $2,532.50 a ton, while nickel increased 0.7% to $17,945, zinc climbed 0.9% to $2,797, lead increased 0.5% to $2,166.50 and tin jumped 3% to $32,875.

SHFE nickel eased 0.1% to 139,770 yuan a ton, tin jumped 3% to 272,990 yuan, while aluminium edged down 0.6% at 20,800 yuan, zinc fell 0.7% at 23,555 yuan and lead shed 0.7% to 18,635 yuan.

For the top stories in metals and other news, click or ($1 = 7.2538 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Janane Venkatraman )

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