LONDON: Copper on Wednesday was on track for its biggest monthly fall since March 2020 as a stronger dollar, the threat of tighter US monetary policy and moves by China to keep a lid on prices pulled the metal from record highs.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 0.8% at $9,410 a tonne at 1715 GMT but down more than 8% in June.
The metal was still up around 7% for the April-June quarter, however - the fifth consecutive quarter of rising prices - after reaching an all-time peak of $10,747.50 on May 10.
“A lot of funds have liquidated positions,” sapping momentum, said independent analyst Robin Bhar.
He said prices would be likely to rise again when the summer - traditionally a period of slow demand from industry - ends.
Many analysts say rising demand for copper in infrastructure and electrification will cause shortages and higher prices in the coming years.
Growth in China’s factory activity dipped to a four-month low in June. Other data showed that in May, Japan’s industrial output fell by the most in a year and South Korea’s dipped from April.
Chile’s manufacturing output rose 8.9% year-on-year in May and its copper output dipped 0.4%, to 493,420 tonnes.
The dollar was on track for its biggest monthly rise since November 2016 after a hawkish shift in the US Federal Reserve’s rates outlook. This hurt metals by making them more expensive for buyers with other currencies.
Global shares retreated from recent highs as Asian markets grew jittery about a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
China is selling from state reserves of copper, aluminium and zinc as part of its pledge to control a surge in commodities prices.
Morgan Stanley forecast copper would average a little above $9,000 a tonne for the rest of the year.
Benchmark aluminium was 1.1% lower at $2,522.50 a tonne, zinc rose 0.9% to $2,978, nickel was 0.8% lower at $18,220, lead was down 1.4% at $2,272 and tin fell 0.9% to $31,070.
All were on track for quarterly gains and all except zinc were set for monthly gains.