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LME metals round-up: 26 April 2013

The metals markets are fighting to resist pessimism.

Lower priced gold attracted demand from both India and China, which has enabled the yellow metal to climb back to more than $1,400 per ounce, and recover perhaps $30 or $40 of the $200 that it lost in the previous 10 days.

But investment fund market analyst Lipper noted that some $2.7bn (£1.76bn) was withdrawn from commodity and precious metal funds in the week ended 17 April. This was the highest withdrawal on record - even if this series of records only began two years ago - and could spell lower prices.

Copper is also under pressure, especially on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, where a large short position has been built up. The markets were turning pessimistic on China as they digested data about annual growth during the first quarter of this year easing to 7.7%, as reported last week.

It did not help that the preliminary purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for manufacturing in China, compiled for the bank HSBC, came in at 50.5, down from 51.6 in March and below expectations of 51.5.

In the US, industrial production rose by 0.4% in March, according to the Federal Reserve, after rising by 1.1% in February.

Modest growth across the country was also the theme of the Beige Book, a regular anecdotal report on US economic activity compiled by the Fed. It reported reasonable activity in both commercial and residential property, and slightly stronger factory output.

This outlook will be confirmed or denied by indicators such as durable goods orders and gross domestic product, due out by the end of this week.

The eurozone economy was also suffering. The preliminary composite PMI calculated by Markit Economics was unchanged from March at 46.5 in April, making this the 19th contraction in 20 months; the manufacturing component was down to 46.5 in April from 46.4 in March. 

Significantly, the preliminary composite PMI for Germany was down to 48.8 in April from 50.6 in March, and the manufacturing PMI was down to 47.9 from 49.0. As one observer suggested, German enthusiasm for austerity may temper if the country enters recession.

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