Commodity futures have gone ballistic

An intercontinental ballistic missile launch. Photo: Roger Ressmeyer/ Corbis/ VCG via Getty Images.

Chinese commodity futures are going nuts on Thursday, adding to the gains seen overnight.

Here’s the scoreboard at the mid-session break:

SHFE Copper ¥51,350 , 2.52%
SHFE Aluminium ¥16,840 , 3.09%
SHFE Zinc ¥25,975 , 6.00%
SHFE Nickel ¥86,850 , 3.45%
SHFE Rebar ¥3,844 , 3.06%
DCE Iron Ore ¥556.00 , 5.90%
DCE Coking Coal ¥1,448.50 , 7.46%
DCE Coke ¥2,264.00 , 6.84%

Truly enormous gains, and seemingly out of nowhere.

Vivek Dhar, mining and energy commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank, put the latest flurry of buying down to a combination of US dollar weakness, supply disruptions and hopes for improved demand from China.

“Base metal prices mostly surged on demand hopes in China and a weaker US dollar,” he said in a note released today.

“Supply-side factors have also prompted metal prices higher. Copper continues to face disruptions to mined supply. China’s aluminium supply has been impacted already as policy makers target illegal capacity. Anti-pollution related cuts to China’s aluminium output in the heating season has provided support to prices too.”

The strength in base metals has also flowed through to bulk commodity and rebar futures, seeing them post gains of between 3.06% to 7.46% respectively for the session.

While dollar weakness and supply-side factors go someway to explaining the surge, they’re not exactly new developments for these markets either.

That hints that the gains are also being fueled by another wave of speculative buying following several days of weakness.

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