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Base Metals Tick Higher as Dollar Slides

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Base metals were ticking higher Wednesday buoyed by the weakening dollar index.

The metals complex is likely to extend its gains through the day, but investors remain cautious ahead of the September import-export index due for release later Wednesday.

ETF Securities announced Monday the launch of a new exchange-traded fund that targets the basket of major industrial metals like aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin, and zinc for public trade. Similar to the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD), the new platform will buy physical supplies of base metals. Industry analysts believe that with the new fund copper prices could rise by almost 20% to a record $10,000 per metric tonne on the London Metals Exchange. The prospectus for the new ETF has yet to be published.

Copper

Copper for three-month delivery increased 0.8% to touch $8,415 per metric tonne on the LME as demand improved against a weakening dollar. Copper inventories fell 725 tonnes to 371,750 tonnes.

Planned copper mining projects are unlikely to support the estimated demand growth at current rates and would, therefore, lead to a deficit in the mined copper market, Rio Tinto (RTP) revealed to the Wall Street Journal. These mining projects are likely to support only 3% of annual demand growth vs. the estimated 3.81% demand growth during 2010 and 4.49% in 2011.

Southern Copper (SCCO), which closed at $38.81 on Tuesday, finds support at $38.13 and faces resistance at $39.18. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) closed at $95.43 with support and resistance at $93.69 and $96.38, respectively. Teck Resources (TCK) closed at $44.23 with support at $43.33 and resistance at $44.80.

Aluminum

Aluminum for three-month delivery inched 0.3% lower to $2,431 per tonne. Inventories shed 3,825 tonnes to 52-week lows of 4.32 million tonnes.

Lack of aluminum producer discipline is continuing to rupture the supply-demand balance and is likely to cap any significant price increases in the upcoming years, Dow Jones reports, citing a Standard Bank report. In 2010, prices are likely to average around $2,219 per metric tonne; in 2011, prices are likely to average $2,430 per metric tonne. Notably, aluminum is trying to break its April 2010 highs, while other metals have already hit five-month highs.

Alcoa (AA) closed trading at $13.20 Tuesday, finding support and resistance at $12.92 and $13.36, respectively. Century Aluminum (CENX) closed at $14.41 with support at $14.02 and resistance at $14.61. Kaiser Aluminum (KALU) closed at $45.77, finding support at $44.21 and resistance at $46.64.

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