BEIJING — Copper prices were little changed on Wednesday as investors awaited China’s demand to pick up after the Lunar New Year holidays and sought clues on the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hike stance.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up just 0.3% at $9,246 a tonne by 0137 GMT. The most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange added 0.5% to 69,780 yuan ($10,341.61) a tonne.
Physical demand in China was quiet as producers held sufficient stocks that they built up before the holidays, and as consumption from end users remained weak amid lowered orders from both domestic and overseas market, participants said.
The absence of trading has led to a steep rise in inventories for refined copper readily in the market. It rose to 267,500 tonnes on Jan. 30, an increase of 80,800 tonnes from Jan. 19, according to local information provider Mysteel.
Still, investors were optimistic at industrial metals demand prospects as the world’s top consumer vowed to support its economy and the real estate sector.
The Fed is widely expected to raise rates by 25 basis points at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting later in the day. Investors will closely monitor comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell too.
Among other metals, LME aluminum shed 0.3% to $2,635 a tonne, zinc advanced 0.4% to $3,403, tin was up 1.1% to $29,820, and lead gained 0.3% to $2,142.
SHFE aluminum climbed 1.3% to 19,150 yuan a tonne, tin rose 1.1% to 238,000 yuan, lead eased 0.5% to 15,160 yuan, while nickel was up 1.8% to 225,440 yuan.
For the top stories in metals and other news, click or ($1 = 6.7475 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Siyi Liu and Dominique Patton; editing by Uttaresh.V)