Commentary: Trade wars will weigh on already struggling tin – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – September 20, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – Tin has been spared the volatility afflicting the rest of the industrial metals over the past month. The London contract is too illiquid to attract the attention of many of the speculative players who have been hammering the likes of copper as a proxy for their negative view on global manufacturing growth.

But tin hasn’t been spared completely. The London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month price sank to a two-year low of $18,300 a tonne in August and is still hovering close to that level at $18,900.

Tin has been the weakest performer in the LME base metals pack for some time. It is down more than 10 percent since the start of 2017. Copper, by contrast, is still up 10 percent despite all the recent fund selling.

Steady supply has kept the market under pressure over that time frame. The danger now is that a deteriorating demand outlook will increase that pressure.


Global usage of refined tin came in at 362,500 tonnes in 2017, representing year-on-year growth of about 4 percent, according to the International Tin Association (ITA). Its findings are based on an annual survey of 109 companies representing about 38 percent of world usage.

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