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Copper skids on fears about Delta variant hitting demand

  • LME copper has eased from a record peak of $10,747.50 touched in May, but is still up 24% so far this year
Published August 3, 2021

LONDON: Copper prices declined for a third session on Tuesday on worries that the rapid spread of powerful COVID-19 variants would spur further lockdowns and curb demand for industrial metals.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange slipped 1% to $9,608.50 a tonne in official trading.

LME copper has eased from a record peak of $10,747.50 touched in May, but is still up 24% so far this year.

Investors were concerned over a combination of renewed lockdowns due to the Delta coronavirus variant and weaker factory data on Monday.

"What was noticeable was a slowing of growth in both the U.S. and China and those two are the big powerhouses of the global economy," said independent consultant Robin Bhar.

Top metals consumer China reported higher locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for Monday, and its central city of Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced in 2019, announced mass testing of all residents.

"We've seen the peak in prices on the back of slowing growth, particularly with the Delta variant spreading widely and quickly. But there's no real conviction, no real volumes behind it, so it's difficult to read too much into the noise at the moment," Bhar added.

Copper dips on demand worries after weak factory data

The wider uptrends in copper and most base metals prices were still intact, he added.

In China, the most-traded September copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1.6% to 70,450 yuan ($10,896.13) a tonne.

Peruvian residents who have been blocking a road used by the Chinese-owned Las Bambas copper mine for the past week suspended their action on Monday.

The Yangshan copper premium rose to its highest since April 7 of $52 a tonne, indicating rising demand for importing the metal into China.

LME aluminium fell 0.6% in official activity to $2,599.50 a tonne, nickel dropped 1.1% to $19,311, zinc shed 2.4% to $2,977, lead eased 0.3% to $2,396 and tin gave up 0.4% to $34,698.

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