LONDON: Copper prices were on Friday set for their biggest weekly fall in a year, down around 6.5%, as investors worried that efforts by central banks to stem inflation will stifle global economic growth and reduce demand for metals.
Other industrial metals also tumbled, with nickel shedding around 13% this week and tin sliding 22%, 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 0.5% lower at $8,367 a tonne at 1605 GMT after touching $8,122.50, down 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 US 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.
However, some investors think slowing growth and falling commodities prices should reduce inflationary pressure and the need for aggressive interest rate rises.
Tin prices were down 10.1% on Friday at $24,260 a tonne, down more than 50% from its high in March, having earlier fallen as low as $22,980.
Noting that the market for the metal used in solder for electronics is smaller and less liquid than for other metals, traders said selling was having a bigger effect on prices.
LME nickel was down 6.9% at $22,375 a tonne and trading at its lowest level in five months.