China's Central Government has again introduced policies to control inflation, including interest rate hikes and restrictions on property purchases. Although the long term outlook is still positive for base metals as China's economy continues to grow, inflation control is a major task for the government. SMM expects the range of base metal prices will fluctuate even wider in the near term.
Copper: Most downstream producers remain closed, but are expected to resume production after the Chinese Lantern Festival on February 17th. Ample market supply and high copper prices are expected to keep copper prices from rising in the short term. (Page 3)
Aluminum: Production is resuming slowly at most domestic downstream producers following the Chinese New Year holiday. Limited purchases were reported in south China, but buying activity was stronger in east China. SMM expects the full recovery of aluminum consumption by late February. (Page 6)
Zinc: Zinc ingot inventories surge higher as transportation is normal. (Page 8)
Lead: LME lead futures for three-month delivery fluctuated at high levels during the Chinese New Year holiday period, while prices in China's domestic lead markets were struggling at around the RMB 17,000/mt mark. (Page 11)
Nickel: Prices for NPI rallied and enquiries for nickel ore at ports were brisk. (Page 13)