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Markets

Copper slides China, Fed and COVID trigger sell-off

  • Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 2.9% at $8,777 a tonne at 1058 GMT from an earlier $8,740 a tonne, the lowest since April 1
19 Aug, 2021

LONDON: Copper prices dropped on Thursday to their lowest in more than four months as China reining in growth, the U.S. central bank signposting its intention to reduce stimulus and rising COVID cases triggered a major sell-off.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 2.9% at $8,777 a tonne at 1058 GMT from an earlier $8,740 a tonne, the lowest since April 1.

"China's government is determined to slow growth - they have been flagging this since March - we have a virus that won't go away, and Fed officials expecting to reduce bond buying are hurting commodities," said Liberum analyst Tom Price.

CHINA: Measures to slow growth include reducing credit and loans, and slowing expansion in total social financing.

China accounts for around half of global consumption of industrial metals.

ED: According to the minutes of the Federal Reserve's July meeting, officials largely expect to reduce their monthly bond buying later this year.

This has boosted the U.S. currency, which when it rises makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies, which could subdue demand.

COVID: A spike in coronavirus cases around the world caused by the Delta variant has fuelled concerns about growth and demand.

FUNDS: Traders said funds were not only cutting their bets on higher prices, but that many were also positioning themselves for much lower prices.

SPREADS: The premium for the cash over the three-month lead contract climbed above $200 a tonne on Wednesday, the highest since March 1990. It was last at $193 a tonne.

Behind this jump are worries about supplies on the LME market, where stocks at 57,050 tonnes > are at their lowest since July 2019 and around half the levels seen in March.

Three-month lead was down 1.2% at $2,262 a tonne.

TIN: Prices of the soldering metal were down 10.2% at $31,760 a tonne. Low liquidity makes tin prices extremely volatile during times of stress.

OTHER METALS: Aluminium slid 1% to $2,529, zinc ceded 2% to $2,924, and nickel fell 2.4% to $18,425 a tonne.

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