(basemetals) Base metals on the London Metal Exchange are for the most part consolidating this morning, Wednesday February 14. Nickel prices are the most energetic with a 0.7% gain to $13,520 per tonne, the others are ranged between down 0.2% and up 0.3%, with copper prices unchanged at $7,017 per tonne. Volume has been below average, with 7,611 lots traded as of 07.19 am London time. This follows a second day of strength, with prices closing up by an average of 1.8% on Tuesday. The precious metals are also firmer this morning with gains averaging 0.3%. Spot gold prices are up by 0.2% at $1,333.95 per oz. This follows gains of 0.7% yesterday. On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, the base metals are up by an average of 2%, with aluminium prices bucking the trend with a 1.8% fall. LME aluminium prices managed to shake off the 166,225 tonnes of stock inflow yesterday, but it appears to have weighed on aluminium sentiment in China. Copper prices are up 1.6% at 52,710 yuan ($8,313) per tonne, while spot copper prices in Changjiang are up by 1.0% at 51,990-52,150 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio has eased to 7.51, down from 7.54 on Tuesday. In other metals in China, iron ore prices are up by 2.6% at 539.50 yuan per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are up by 0.3%, gold prices are up by 0.9% and silver prices are up by 0.4%. In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are rebounding, up by 0.13% at $62.63 per barrel, while the yield on US 10-year treasuries is easier at 2.83%, as is the German 10-year bund yield at 0.73%. Equities in Asia are mixed today: the Kospi is up 1.11%, the CSI 300 is up 0.80%, and the Hang Seng is up 1.71%, while the ASX 200 is down 0.25% and the Nikkei is down 0.43%. The latter is under pressure as the yen surges. This follows a mixed performance in western markets on Tuesday, where in the United States the Dow Jones closed up by 0.16% at 24,640.45, and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed down by 0.81% at 3,340.93. The dollar index is edging lower again, it was recently quoted at 89.59, the low being 88.43 on January 25 and the recent high being 90.57 on February 9. The euro (1.2365) is working higher, as are sterling (1.3895) and the Australian dollar (0.7872), while the yen (107.44) reached 106.84 earlier today, which was the highest since November 14. The yuan at 6.3420 is slightly weaker, while most of the other emerging currencies we follow are mixed. The economic calendar shows China’s foreign direct investment only grew 0.3%, but this follows two months of extra strong gains of 7.9% and 9.8%, which were well above average for 2017. German fourth quarter GDP was up 0.6%, weaker than the 0.8% seen in the third quarter, and CPI dropped 0.7%, but it has a history of being negative in January. Later there is data out on Italian and EU GDP, EU industrial production with US data including CPI, retail sales, business inventories and crude oil inventories. In addition, Germany’s Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann is speaking. After two days of rebounds LME prices are consolidating. While it does look as though the shake-out from last week may have run its course driven by dip buying, the strength of the yen suggests a pick-up in haven buying so there may still be further bouts of weakness in the broader markets that could weigh on sentiment in the metals. In addition, traders may be nervous about thinner market volumes during China’s Lunar New Year holiday that starts on Thursday and runs until February 21. We still think underlying sentiment is bullish – we should get an update on how bullish it is by seeing how much follow-through buying there is. But, it may take until after the Lunar New Year holidays before bullishness returns. Precious metals are mapping out a similar path to the base metals i.e. they have rebounded off last week’s lows but are now consolidating. Given the yen is seeing some safe-haven demand may well help underpin/drive gold prices too.