LONDON Copper took a breather on Thursday as Chinese markets closed for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday after four days of rapid gains that lifted prices to their highest in eight years, with analysts expecting tight supplies to push the rally further.
The start of the Chinese holiday kept trading activity low, and benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.3% at $8,276 a tonne at 1700 GMT after reaching $8,327.50 on Wednesday, its highest since February 2013.
Many analysts forecast a multi-year bull run as demand outpaces supply, though Gianclaudio Torlizzi, a partner at consultant T-Commodity, said the market may be getting ahead of itself.
“The more the price moves up in the very short term the bigger the fall will be in the second half of this year,” he said. “The $7,000 level will be retested. If it goes to $9,000, that will be a good opportunity to short.”
Copper inventories in warehouses registered with the LME and Comex exchange are falling, with LME stocks near their lowest since 2005 at 73,500 tonnes.
Inventories in Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouses fell in January to their lowest since 2011 before rising slightly to 78,571 tonnes.
Cash copper has flipped to a premium against the three-month contract, pointing to tight supply of nearby metal. The premium hit $17.50 a tonne this week before slipping to $8.75.
Rough seas and a shortage of containers have bogged down shipments of copper cathodes from Chile, the world’s largest producer, and could continue to slow exports.
Global shares rose for a ninth day while the dollar ended a run of weakness that had helped metals by making them cheaper for non-US buyers.
The premium for cash tin over the three-month contract briefly surged to $3,000 at tonne on Wednesday, pointing to an acute shortage of metal.
Benchmark tin was down 0.3% at $23,255 a tonne but near 7-1/2-year highs.
LME aluminium was up 0.1% at $2,080.50 a tonne, zinc rose 2.5% to $2,793, nickel fell 0.2% to $18,635 and lead was 0.9% higher at $2,115.