LONDON: Aluminium prices deepened losses and hit the weakest in seven months on Tuesday as investors worried that renewed lockdowns in top consumer China and a potential global recession could slash demand for metals.
Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange fell 2.2% to $2,570 a tonne by 1615 GMT after touching the weakest since Nov. 10 and sliding 1.9% on Monday.
“There’s a general lack of risk appetite right now and metals are in the firing line because of the recessionary risks to demand,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.
“There’s also some nervous trading ahead of tomorrow’s FOMC meeting.”
Eroding inflation data and fast-changing views in financial markets have opened the door to a larger-than-expected three-quarter-percentage point interest rate increase when Federal Reserve officials meet this week.
Meanwhile, concern about demand in top metals consumer China has been rekindled due to fresh COVID-19 lockdowns.
Authorities in China’s capital warned on Tuesday a surge in COVID-19 cases linked to a 24-hour bar was critical and the city of 22 million was in a “race against time” to get to grips with its most serious outbreak since the pandemic began.
Losses in some metals, however, were cushioned by falling inventory levels and tight supply, Hansen added.
“Inventory levels held by exchanges in London and Shanghai are still on the weak side so how do you square that with prices coming down in anticipation of lower demand? That’s the conundrum the market has to deal with.”
LME copper dipped 0.8% to $9,218 a tonne, while US Comex futures dropped 1.1% to $4.164 a lb.
LME copper has shed 15% since touching a record peak of $10,845 in early March.
The Yangshan copper premium
Weighing on the market, the dollar index bounced to a fresh two-decade high, making greenback-denominated metals more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
LME zinc eased 0.4% to $3,598.50 a tonne, lead slipped 0.6% to $2,086, nickel fell 2.6% to a three-month low of $25,250 and tin slid 5.5% to $31,100, the weakest in nearly a year.