LONDON: Aluminium reached $3,000 a tonne for the first time in 13 years Monday, ratcheting up soaring inflation concerns that in turn are boosting the dollar as traders eye higher interest rates to tame runaway prices.
Asian equities traded mixed as investors weighed hopes for better US-China trade relations against further regulatory clampdown from Beijing on the Chinese tech sector.
Europe’s main stock markets advanced and Wall Street opened higher.
Sentiment has been lifted by news that US President Joe Biden held talks on Friday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a bid to smooth relations between the superpowers.
At the same time, market caution persisted after data showed inflation of goods leaving US factories had soared in August to an all-time high of 8.3 percent.
The reading was fuelled partly by a sharp rise in commodity prices, a concern highlighted by news that aluminium has hit $3,000 a tonne for the first time in 13 years on global supply issues.
“Soaring commodity prices show little sign of letting up,” noted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group, as oil prices won another one percent Monday.
After hitting the $3,000 mark, aluminium fell back to $2,924 in afternoon trading on the London Metal Exchange.
Surging inflation concerns ramped up speculation about the Federal Reserve’s plans for monetary policy.
Its boss Jerome Powell has already indicated that the US central bank would likely start tapering its vast bond-buying programme — which has been a key driver of the economic and equity markets recovery — by the end of the year.
But the latest US inflation figures could cause officials to bring forward their timeline and raise interest rates.
The release Tuesday of US consumer inflation has now taken on more significance, according to analysts.
CHINA’S TECH CRACKDOWN
In trading Monday, Hong Kong led the losers, with tech firms again taking much of the heat on lingering concerns about China’s crackdown on the sector.
Market heavyweight Alibaba plunged more than four percent after Chinese regulators ordered sweeping changes to the country’s biggest payment app Alipay.
Alipay — with more than a billion users in China and other Asian nations — was told to spin off its profitable micro loan business, the Financial Times reported.
The firm’s parent company Ant Group is China’s biggest payments services provider and part of the Alibaba empire.
Traders were keeping tabs also on the Korean peninsula after the North test-fired a new “long-range cruise missile” over the weekend, calling it a “strategic weapon of great significance”.
The US military described the move as posting “threats” to the country’s neighbours and beyond.
Oil prices rose, with the OPEC oil cartel forecasting global demand will surpass pre-pandemic levels next year.