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Copper loses ground as fiery US-China meeting fuels caution

  • Markets are also unsettled after a rapid rise in US bond yields turned investors cautious, taking some heat from rallies in equities, oil and industrial metals.
  • Copper inventories in the LME system rose by 12,300 tonnes to 104,950 tonnes and Shanghai Futures Exchange stocks by 15,578 tonnes to 187,372 tonnes in the week to Friday.
Published March 19, 2021
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LONDON: Copper prices fell alongside global stock markets on Friday after a confrontation between Chinese and US diplomats set a negative tone for relations between the two countries during Joe Biden's presidency.

Markets are also unsettled after a rapid rise in US bond yields turned investors cautious, taking some heat from rallies in equities, oil and industrial metals.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME), which reached a decade high of $9,617 a tonne last month, was at $8,979 at 1201 GMT, down 0.8% for the day and 1.1% for the week.

Rising demand and tight supply mean the rally will likely resume, but not immediately, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

"There's a little too much uncertainty going on to kick off the rally again just yet," he said. "But the underlying fundamentals in copper remain strong."

CLASH: The first high-level US-China meeting of the Biden administration saw a fiery start on Thursday, with both sides rebuking the other's policies.

MARKETS: Chinese shares fell by around 2%. US bond yields edged off Thursday's 14-month highs. Oil stabilised after a 7% slide.

VACCINES: Nearly a dozen countries resumed use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shots on Friday.

STOCKS: Copper inventories in the LME system rose by 12,300 tonnes to 104,950 tonnes and Shanghai Futures Exchange stocks by 15,578 tonnes to 187,372 tonnes in the week to Friday.

CHINA PREMIUM: Chinese Yangshan copper import premiums fell to $67 from $77 in late February, signalling weaker demand for overseas metal.

ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium was up 0.3% at $2,222 a tonne and 2.3% higher this week after reaching a 2-1/2-year high of $2,249.50 on Wednesday.

STOCKS/SPREAD: Inventories in LME warehouses have leaped to almost 2 million tonnes from 1.3 million tonnes on March 8, pushing cash aluminium to a steep discount against the three-month contract.

OTHER METALS: LME zinc was flat at $2,793 a tonne, nickel gained 0.4% to $16,105, lead rose 0.7% to $1,935.50 and tin was 1.9% lower at $25,350.

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