LONDON: Copper prices on Friday were set for their biggest weekly fall in a year, down around 7.5%, as investors worried that efforts by central banks to bring down inflation will stifle global economic growth and reduce demand for metals.
Other industrial metals also tumbled, with nickel down around 13% this week and tin off 25%, its biggest weekly slump since at least 2005.
“There is a risk of further losses,” said independent analyst Robin Bhar. “A sharp economic slowdown or recession seems to be on the cards.”
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was 1.4% lower at $8,290 a tonne in official trading after touching $8,220, down nearly 25% from a peak in March and the lowest level since February 2021.
Bhar said copper, used in power and construction, could fall towards its cost of production, around $7,000-$7,500, but tight supply and rising demand for use in electrification later in the decade will lift prices.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said this week that the U.S. central bank would rein in 40-year-high inflation even if doing so pushes up unemployment and risks an economic slowdown.
Global manufacturing growth is slowing, partly due to coronavirus restrictions in top producer China.
Tin fell 10% on Friday to $24,275 a tonne, down more than 50% from its high in March, having earlier fallen to $22,980.
Noting that the market for the metal used in solder for electronics was smaller and less liquid than for other metals, traders said selling was having a bigger effect on prices.
LME nickel was down 5.1% at $22,825 a tonne and trading at its lowest price in five months.
Aluminium fell 1.1% to $2,450 and was down 2% this week. Zinc slipped 3.1% to $3,384 and was down around 4% this week. Lead was 2.4% lower at $1,900 and heading for a 7% weekly loss.