Other than an unchanged aluminium alloy contract, prices all closed higher on the London Metal Exchange last week.
None of the gains were into new ground but still underlined how resiliently bullish the overall mood remains.
Stock movements in and out of LME warehouses followed the general pattern but the net 504 tonne withdrawal of nickel to a total of 9,432 was large in percentage terms.
Having dipped to a low of $3,210 last Tuesday, this contract then enjoyed good support and returned to knock on the $3,300 door but failed on each occasion to break through, partly thanks to South American producers selling at around that level. Having touched $3,297 on Friday, the forward price finally closed the week $57 up at $3,287.
Exchange stocks rose by 1,400 tonnes while the backwardisation in the spread increased slightly to $160 per tonne.
Further attempts will be made to beat the recent $3,308 high during the coming weeks.
Having put in a steady performance last Monday this contract was hit by long liquidation on Tuesday which took the price down from $1,940 to a low of $1,913. As the $1,925 level was broken the selling accelerated on the triggering of stop-loss orders. However good trade buying then appeared which returned the price to a $1,934 close.
Further fund and technical
buying went on to set a week's high on Thursday of $1,964 before the market weakened again to a $1,945 close on Friday for an overall gain of $18 per tonne.
Stocks fell by 4,000 tonnes and the backwardisation closed at $5 per tonne.
The secondary alloy contract closed unchanged at $1,730 while the US specification version gained $20 to $1,740.
Gaining $19 over the week to close at $1,365, zinc continued the steady consolidation following the major selling that took place recently. Stocks continued to decline, falling by 4,000 tonnes. One analyst is forecasting a deficit of refined metal of 250,000 tonnes for this year as Chinese demand continues to rise although it is currently declining in the US. Higher prices are still expected as the year passes.
Although dipping by $10 to a week's low of $932 last Tuesday, lead put in a steady performance overall as it climbed to a high of $977 by Thursday before closing the week $10 higher at $967 while the backwardisation remained out at $30 per tonne. Another metal where Chinese
demand remains a key influence, the ever-declining stocks, last week down by 1,450 tonnes, should ensure at least a steady base for the current price.
There was early weakness with the forward price down to $15,600 over the first two days but then the metals in general started to rise in price and nickel joined in with stop-loss and fresh fund buying taking the price up to a high on Thursday of $16,450 before closing that day at $16,175. Friday's close was lower again at $16,075 but it was still $450 higher than a week earlier. The backwardisation narrowed to $240 from the $360 at the start of the week.
Trading between Monday's $7,800 and Friday's $8,300, tin finally closed the week $125 higher at $8,150. It does look as if a new level is being set in the $8,000/$8,150 area and that this may well last for a while. Stocks rose by five tonnes to 5,165 and the backwardisation remained in an area around $50 per tonne. It does now appear as if increased production may come out of Indonesia which may help calm a market which is now looking increasingly tight.