The Strategist

China May Ban Short Selling of Metals

11/26/2015 - 14:16

China may start buying up metals to fill in strategic reserves and to impose a ban on short selling in the futures market. With the request for buying metals to the country's authorities asked the Chinese manufacturers of aluminum and nickel, according to Reuters citing sources familiar with the situation.

Against the background of these messages, the morning trade session in Asia witnessed a sharp rise in prices for industrial metals. According to metal manufacturers, purchasing industrial metals for strategic reserves will help balance the domestic market and reduce overabundance of metals.

China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA) on Monday suggested the government start buying aluminum, nickel and other metals, including cobalt and indium, told sources. The corresponding request was sent to the National Commission for Development and Reform Commission of China. The Commission, however, did not comment on this information. It is not clear whether the government will agree to the industry’s proposal.

At the same time, the largest producers of zinc in China offered to cut production by 500 th. tons next year, that is, almost monthly production rate. This way, the companies hope to stimulate growth of prices for their products. Largest producers of nickel are going to hold a meeting on Friday, where possibility of reducing the production volume will also be discussed.

According to Reuters’s sources, CNIA expects the government to buy 900 th. tons of aluminum, 30 th. tons of refined nickel, 40 th. tons of indium and 400 th. tons of zinc. Other sources, however, do not mention any plans for zinc.

Simultaneously, the Chinese regulators have launched investigations in respect of the largest local and foreign brokers for manipulation with prices of metals during trading on Chinese exchanges. Brokers suspected intentional play on lowering prices, and a temporary ban on short positions may be introduced upon investigation.  

On Monday, nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) reached the 10-years minimum on fears of a decline in demand from China, the second largest economy in the world. Aluminum prices fell by almost 30% over the past year.