LONDON: Copper prices fell for a second day on Wednesday as a power supply crisis gripped China, the largest metals consumer, shutting factories and casting doubt on the outlook for demand.
Chinese shares fell and the yuan weakened, while Goldman Sachs and Nomura revised down projections for China’s economic growth this year.
Outside China, doubts were emerging about the global recovery as central banks prepared to reduce stimulus and the U.S. government risked tipping into a funding crisis.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.9% at $9,189.50 a tonne at 1605 GMT after falling 1% on Tuesday.
China is the biggest consumer and the biggest producer of metals, and it is unclear whether power shortages will have more impact on supply or demand, said independent analyst Robin Bhar.
“In this uncertain environment, the path of least resistance (for prices) does appear to be down,” he said.
RALLY: Copper is used in power and construction. Prices hit a record high of $10,747.50 in May and many analysts expect further gains as the world embraces electrification.
CHINA: Metal consumers in China are readying themselves to face potential supply shocks.
MARKETS: While Chinese shares sank, European and U.S. equities recovered somewhat from Tuesday’s worldwide rout.
DOLLAR: The dollar leaped to its strongest against a basket of major currencies in nearly a year, pressuring dollar-priced metals by making them costlier for buyers outside the United States.
TREATMENT CHARGES: China’s top copper smelters set floor treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for the fourth quarter at $70 per tonne and 7 cents a pound, sources said, up from $55 per tonne and 5.5 cents a pound in the third quarter.
“This means an improvement of supply at the concentrate market,” said Dmitry Glushakov at VTB Capital.
LEAD: Glencore’s lead smelter in Germany, operating at 75% capacity since mid-August, is expected to return to full production by November, sources said.
METALS PRICES: LME aluminium was down 1.1% at $2,911.50 a tonne, zinc fell 0.8% to $3,055.50, lead dropped 1.3% to $2,140, nickel was down 1.3% at $18,325 and tin was down 0.3% at $35,695.