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LONDON: Copper prices sunk to their lowest in almost 20 months as persistent worries that a recession would dampen metals demand hit a market with thin summer volumes.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange dropped as much as 4.9% to $7,291.50 a tonne, the lowest since November 25, 2020, before paring losses to $7,560 by 0905 GMT, a decline of 1.4%.

"That dollar strength yesterday was the trigger that came on top of the recent recession fears, pulling the rug from under the market," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.

"The weakness overnight looks like it was driven by Chinaand the COVID problems they're still facing. And this is the time of year where the market can easily get caught on the wrong side when liquidity is drying up."

China is fighting COVID-19 flare-ups on multiple fronts across the country including an emerging cluster in Shanghai, spurring mass testing drives and fresh restrictions.

The most-traded August copper contract in Shanghai ended daytime trading down 5.4% to 57,620 yuan ($8,595.38) a tonne.

Copper lurches to 19-month low as dollar jumps, speculators flee

The dollar stood tall near a 20-year peak against the euro, making metals priced in the U.S. currency more expensive for other currency holders.

German industrial orders grew slightly in May after three consecutive months of decline due to the war in Ukraine, data showed on Wednesday.

The premium of cash LME lead over the three months contract rose to $21.25 a tonne, the strongest since May 20, indicating near-term tightness in inventories. This compares to a discount of $9.20 a week ago.

LME lead was the best performer, climbing 2% to $1,979 a tonne.

OTHER METALS: LME aluminium slipped 0.5% to $2,379 a tonne, nickel fell 1% to $22,425 and tin shed 1.5% to $25,615, but zinc gained 0.7% to $3,013.50.

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