METALS-Copper rally could be back on as prices hold above $9,000

Beckett Bronze produces cast bronze precision-machined parts and continuous cast bars. Castings are manufactured at the East 20th Street plant. The West 23rd Street plant produces finished machined parts and has about 75 machine tools including CNC lathes.

LONDON, March 2 (Reuters) – Copper steadied above $9,000 a tonne on Tuesday, easing fears that prices could correct lower after a breakneck rally powered by expectations of tight supply and growing demand.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 1.3% at $9,163.50 a tonne in official trading, moving towards last week’s 10-year high of $9,617.

The metal used in power and construction shot up 15.5% in February as more analysts predicted price rises and speculators piled in.

“Sentiment is still very bullish out there,” said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann. But the rally is running ahead of fundamentals and copper will end the year lower, he added.

POSITIONING: Speculators are bullish, with a net long position in LME copper equal to 62% of open contracts by Thursday, the most since 2004, brokers Marex Spectron said.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE), speculators’ net long reached 57.9% of open contracts on Friday, the most since 2003, before falling to 51.8% on Monday, Marex said.

COLUMN: Chinese funds have thrown more fuel on copper’s flames, writes Andy Home.

GOLDMAN: “The fundamental outlook for copper remains extremely bullish,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note, predicting stellar returns on commodities.

“We continue to forecast the largest deficit in 10 years in 2021 (327,000 tonnes), followed by an open-ended phase of deficits,” they wrote. “To reflect the rising probability of scarcity pricing, our 3/6/12M copper targets increase to $9,200/$9,800/$10,500/t.”

SPREAD: The premium for cash copper over the three-month contract is about $45 and trending higher, pointing to tight nearby supply. CMCU0-3

RIO TINTO: The U.S. Forest Service blocked a land swap sought by Rio Tinto in Arizona for its proposed Resolution Copper mine.

MARKETS/DOLLAR: European shares rose and oil prices fell while the U.S. dollar reached its strongest in almost a month.

CHINA: The biggest metal-consuming nation will begin its annual session of parliament on Friday, unveiling a five-year plan to fend off stagnation.

OTHER METALS: LME aluminium was up 2.3% at $2,178.50 a tonne, zinc rose 0.7% higher to $2,835, nickel was down 0.3% at $18,635, lead gained 0.7% to $2,086.50 and tin was up 3% at $24,165.

Reporting by Peter Hobson Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen Editing by Barbara Lewis and David Goodman

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