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LONDON: Copper prices dropped on Monday after weak economic data from top metals consumer China fuelled worries about demand.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) had fallen 1.3% to $9,445.50 a tonne by 1600 GMT, having gained 1.1% on Friday.

Equity markets and oil prices were also hit by the Chinese data, which showed factory output and retail sales growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed sharply in July, missing expectations.

“The message we’re getting from the markets is risk-off because the data was disappointing,” said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke in Zurich.

“But we shouldn’t read too much into this data from July because of the potential distortions from COVID-19 restrictions and also from the floods.” China has faced severe weather in several provinces, with record rainfall in Henan province last month causing floods that killed more than 300 people.

Menke added that copper’s correction probably had longer to run after it touched a record $10,747.50 a tonne in May. Menke is targeting fair value for LME copper at about $9,000.

COLUMN-Funds unimpressed by mounting copper supply disruption

Aluminium rose 0.3% to $2,607.50 a tonne after China’s aluminium output slipped for a third month in July, with daily average levels at their lowest since October 2020.

The spread between LME cash aluminium over the three-month contract flipped to a premium of $17.25 a tonne, having remained at a discount since the beginning of August, indicating tightening nearby supply.

Record aluminium prices in the United States and Europe will be sustained by Russia’s mining tax for some months, but attempts to push prices even higher are likely to face resistance, analysts said.

LME cash lead spiked to a $105 premium over the three-month contract, the strongest premium since 2007, suggesting shortages of immediate supply.

LME lead dropped 1% to $2,311.50 a tonne, zinc fell 0.1% to $3,030.50, nickel eased 0.7% to $19,510 while tin gained 1% to $35,675.

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