Copper sinks to 17-month low as slowdown fears mount


BENGALURU: Copper prices dropped to a fresh 17-month low on Monday as renewed lockdowns in top consumer China and the prospects of aggressive rate hikes stoked fears of global economic slowdown, denting demand for metals.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 1.4% at $7,938 a tonne, as of 0717 GMT, after hitting its lowest since early-February 2021 at $7,918 earlier in the session.

The most-traded August copper contract in Shanghai ended daytime trading down 3.1% to 60,660 yuan a tonne.

"Softening demand and concerns over a growth slowdown are dragging on the sector. We think improving Chinese economic activity will stabilise prices," ANZ analysts said in a note.

"Inventories for metals are shrinking to multi-year lows. Supply challenges due to higher energy prices and other operational issues will allow little room for inventories build."

From the United States to the euro zone, activity at factories slowed to levels last seen during the initial wave of the pandemic.

Adding to demand worries, cities in eastern China tightened COVID-19 curbs on Sunday as coronavirus clusters emerge, posing a new threat to the country's economic recovery under the government's strict zero-COVID policy.

INFLATION: Euro zone inflation hit a record high in June as price pressures broadened, and its peak could still be months away, firming the case for rapid European Central Bank rate hikes starting this month.

FED: The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to deliver another 75-basis-point rate hike this month to combat soaring inflation.

DOLLAR: The dollar hovered close to recent two-decade highs against its rivals, making greenback-denominated metals more expensive for other currency holders.

ZINC: Analysts at Citi Research in a note said "zinc looks like the next shoe to drop in the near-term, with positioning having been relatively resilient and likely to crack imminently, and with prices the furthest from costs."

PRICES: LME aluminium gained 0.3% to $2,451.50 a tonne, zinc was up 0.8% at $3,054, and lead fell 1.2% to $1,912, nickel gained 2.6% to $22,380, and tin lost 1.7% to $26,210. Shanghai aluminium edged 0.1% higher, zinc slipped 1.3%, nickel fell 2.1%, lead was flat, and tin gained 0.2%. - Reuters

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