By BUSINESS REPORTER –
THE prices of copper in London yesterday rose towards a six-week high, as China slowly returned after Lunar New Year holiday.
REUTERS reports that traders looked for any signs of appetite in the world’s top user of the metal ahead of the second quarter, when demand is usually strongest.
The prices for three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had climbed one per cent to US$5,840 a tonne after closing slightly weaker in the previous session.
Prices were nearing a six-week peak of $5,846 a tonne marked on Tuesday.
Direction remains unclear as top consumer China has a holiday shortened week, with markets not expected to ramp up until mid-March.
The most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange jumped by 1.4 per cent to close at 42,680 yuan ($6,819) a tonne.
Reflecting a small uptick in Chinese metal demand, bonded copper premiums were up by $2.50 to $90-$95.
China’s State Grid plans to boost its investment in grid construction this year to a record 420 billion yuan, up nine per cent on last year.
For oil, the Brent crude futures surged five per cent on Wednesday, after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said oil demand was growing and data showed Chinese factories were producing more than expected.
Falling refined products inventories reported by the government helped lift US crude and countered data showing a larger-than-expected US crude inventory build.
Brent April crude rose $2.97 to settle at $61.63 a barrel. US April crude rose by $1.71 to settle at $50.99.
US crude stocks rose 8.4 million barrels last week to a record 434.07 million, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday, adding 2.4 million barrels at Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for the US crude contract.
The relatively small gain at Cushing may have helped widen the spread between Brent and US crude to its widest since January 2014, with Brent’s premium nearing $11 a barrel.