Base metals on the London Metal Exchange (LME) have closed mixed near recent lows after steady losses in recent sessions, with market activity muted by the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.
At the close of open-outcry trading on Thursday, LME three-month copper was flat on the day at $US7,020 a metric tonne.
While nickel prices bounced from a four-month low to close 0.9 per cent higher on the day at $US13,400 a tonne, aluminium closed 0.2 per cent lower at $US1,754 a metric tonne.
"Trading activity today was light across the markets," said Liz Grant, senior account executive on the Sucden Financial Industrial Commodities Desk. With the Thanksgiving holiday falling this week, many US market participants are expected to take a long weekend.
Earlier on Thursday, aluminium fell to its lowest value for more than four years, at $US1,744/tonne. This price had not been seen since July 2009 when prices were bouncing from the financial crisis lows at $US1,290 a tonne, hit in February 2009.
There are signs that the metal's 30-month downward trend is likely to continue unless China changes plans.
According to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics, the global aluminium market was in oversupply by some 1.23 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2013, following a surplus of 539,000 tonnes for the whole of 2012. With so much metal above ground, prices this week slumped to their lowest value since July 2009, at $US1,744 a tonne.
China accounts for around half of global production, and while Rusal and US competitor Alcoa have both announced production cutbacks this year, the key to next year's market will be whether or not smelting companies in China choose to scale back capacity.