Lead rose for a second day in London, leading gains by industrial metals, on speculation top consumer China will resume buying when markets in the country reopen next week after the Lunar New Year holiday.
Manufacturing in China expanded for a fourth month in January, a government-backed survey of purchasing managers showed this month, and sales of passenger vehicles surged 49 percent to a monthly record. Demand for lead, used mostly in batteries, will exceed supply next year, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.
“We are quite optimistic about lead prospects,” said Andrew Shaw, head of base-metals research at Credit Suisse in Singapore. “Underlying demand will grow, especially in the auto industry in China and other emerging countries.”
Lead for delivery in three months gained 0.8 percent to $2,434 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange by 7:45 a.m. New York time. Prices are up 4.5 percent this year. Copper added 0.4 percent to $8,266 a ton and futures for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to $3.7565 a pound on the Comex in New York.
China accounts for about 45 percent of global lead consumption, according to Barclays Plc. Stockpiles of the metal tracked by the LME are down 10 percent this year, more than aluminium or zinc, while inventories of copper, tin and nickel have expanded.
Sentiment in the copper industry is the strongest since at least June 2012, Macquarie Group Ltd. said Feb. 8 in a report. It cited results of a survey in leading global consumer China.
“Stocks at most Chinese factories are low,” Pengjiang “Richard” Fu, director for Asian commodities trading at Newedge Group SA in London, said by e-mail. “They might need to restock after the Chinese New Year as they restart manufacturing. Some people expect the Chinese to buy after the holiday, but it is still an uncertainty.”
Copper stockpiles monitored by the LME, up 25 percent this year, fell 0.2 percent to 398,925 tons, daily figures showed. Orders to remove the metal from warehouses climbed 0.6 percent to 31,475 tons on bookings in Busan, South Korea.
Aluminum, nickel, zinc and tin gained in London.