The base metal complex was indicated at mixed levels in Thursday morning premarket activity on the London Metal Exchange, with very little in the way of fundamental news to shift the metals out of their ranges, a trader with an LME ring dealer said. "There is not a lot of volume at all really, it's all fairly limited," he said, adding that copper had picked up a little in morning trade, but noted that the move was mostly technical. The trader said copper was moving in a tight $40/mt range Thursday morning and had gained some ground following some selling action in Asia overnight. "Each time it breaks below $7,200/mt we see some buying coming in," he added. Copper was bid at $7,320/mt at 0842 GMT on Thursday, gaining $115 from its Wednesday afternoon close. The trader said 1,100 lots of copper had been traded by mid-morning Thursday. The trader said aluminium had been in a $20 range on Thursday morning, with around 600 lots through the LME Select system by 0915 GMT.
The trader noted that the open interest on aluminium and the approaching options declaration was "in the background of everyone's mind," but there had been no real impact seen yet. Analysts have noted that aluminium was expected to see further upside momentum as the options declaration date nears. Aluminium was bid at $2,825/mt at 0842 GMT on Thursday inching up $4 from its previous close. The World Bureau of Metal Statistics reported late Wednesday that the primary aluminum market saw a deficit of 23,000 mt in the first quarter. Demand for primary aluminium was just over 9.04 million mt, 758,000 mt more then the equivalent total for Q1 2006. Production rose by 934,000 mt to 9.02 million mt during the same period. Total reported stocks fell during March to stand at 2.79 million mt at the end of the month, WBMS said, adding that overall, global production increased by 11.6%, compared with Q1 2006. Meanwhile, nickel slipped even lower in Thursday premarket trade.
Nickel was bid at $45,800/mt at 0842 GMT on Thursday, down $400 from its previous close. Nickel lost $2,000/mt on the day on Wednesday following a hefty stock increase. The trader said nickel was seeing stock inflows each day with metal coming in to the market from Russia. He noted that following its sell off, it should now find support around $46,000/mt. The trader said despite zinc good performance over the last month, it appeared to be running out of steam. "It will be interesting to see what happens below $3,600/mt," he said. Zinc was bid at $3,675/mt off $25 from Wednesday's close. Meanwhile, the trader said lead had performed relatively well over the last few days. "It is looking fairly positive compared with the others -- but $2,200/mt should be the lid on it," he noted. Lead was bid at $2,130/mt on Thursday morning, unchanged from its previous close. Tin, aluminium alloy and North American alloy had no bids at 0842 GMT.