On Monday, the front-month contract on Brent posted relatively strong gains and eventually settled at 111.08 USD per barrel. Quite interestingly, weaker than expected result of US ISM manufacturing index was more than offset by comments of Saudi Oil Minister Naimi and oil spills in Arkansas.
Regarding the former, Naimi said he expected the Asian demand for Saudi crude to pick up in months ahead (although he did not specify by how much). As for the latter, the rupture and following shutdown of Pegasus pipeline (which can transport 90 thousand barrels per day of oil from Midwest to Texas) might have provided an additional stimulus for the oil price.
Base metals prices continue to fall today in early trading even though official China’s PMI data for March showed some positive signs. Nevertheless, the aluminium price opened at 1900 USD per ton (USD/t) and the three-month contract on copper even below 7500 USD/t.
According to data released by the CFTC, net speculative position in COMEX copper fell to an all-time low last week, mainly due to the sharp increase in short positions (number of money managers with short position has more than doubled over the past two months). Speculator’s bets clearly reflect improved state of refined copper market and building surplus of the metal which has become apparent even in official exchange inventories. Let us recall, however, that the stocks at LME may not be readily available if the demand for the metal recovers; this might somehow limit the room for further sharp sell-off of the red metal.