Copper set for biggest weekly fall since November on trade war threat

Fawad Maqsood August 2, 2019

LONDON: Copper prices were set for their biggest weekly fall since November after President Donald Trump said the United States would impose more tariffs on Chinese imports, escalating a trade dispute expected to weaken economic growth and metals demand.

Trump’s announcement sent shockwaves through global markets, pushing equities, bond yields, oil and industrial metals sharply lower, with zinc tumbling to its cheapest in 11 months.

It also drove the dollar to a two-year high and pummelled China’s yuan, making metals more expensive for Chinese buyers who are their biggest consumers.

Benchmark copper traded down 1.8% at $5,792 a tonne in official rings after falling to an eight-week low of $5,761.

It was around 3% lower this week, the steepest weekly fall in nine months.

The US-China trade war and a deepening slowdown in factory activity in China and elsewhere have hit industrial metals hard, with copper down around 20% from highs in June last year.

Trump’s announcement came after the US Federal Reserve tempered expectations of sustained interest rate cuts which could have stimulated growth and helped weaken the dollar.

“There was quite a bit of optimism around the trade talks earlier in the week and about the Fed,” said ING analyst Warren Patterson. “Both have disappointed.”

TRADE WAR: Trump said he would impose a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1, extending tariffs to nearly all Chinese goods the United States imports and ending a temporary truce in the two countries’ trade row.

He also threatened to raise tariffs further if China’s President Xi Jinping failed to move more quickly to strike a trade deal.

China said it would not be blackmailed and warned of retaliation.

CHINA STIMULUS: $300 billion in tax cuts aimed at stimulating China’s slowing economy are starting to hurt the revenues of debt-ridden provincial governments, potentially making them less able to implement infrastructure projects.

US ECONOMY: Data on Friday will likely show that US job growth slowed in July.

JAPAN: Japan’s economic growth likely slowed in the second quarter, a Reuters poll showed.

NICKEL: BHP plans to start production of nickel sulphate in the second quarter of next year, an executive said.

OTHER METALS: LME zinc did not trade but was bid down 1.9% at $2,358 a tonne, nickel was bid 0.5% lower at $14,520, lead traded down 1.5% at $1,960, tin was bid down 0.3% at $17,275 and aluminium traded 0.2% lower at $1,777.

All except nickel were down this week.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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