The outlook for base metals in 2024 has deteriorated in recent weeks, as China’s economic stimulus measures seem to be falling short in propping up the economy. China’s property market woes are well-documented, and while the authorities are doing everything they can to drive a recovery, the outlook remains pessimistic.

 

There are, however, upside risks to prices as well, but these stem from the supply side of the equation.  Trade restrictions and sanctions on Russia could tighten metals supply and push up prices. An escalation of ongoing conflict in the Middle East could also lead to substantial disruptions in energy markets, increasing production costs for energy-intensive metals.

 

China set its 2024 economic growth target at 5%, down from the achieved growth of 5.2% for 2023. However, it must be noted that 2023’s growth came from a low base given the difficulties faced in 2022. Realising such a target for 2024 is going to require immense stimulus measures domestically and resilience amongst foreign economies to support demand for China’s exports. The former will be key for base metals going forward.

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