Shanghai Futures Exchange copper slipped 1.4 percent to 36,100 yuan ($5,547) on a sour note on Monday after data showed factory activity in top consumer China continued to shrink in December, compounding a difficult outlook for metals at a time when a firmer dollar is already dragging on demand.
Factory activity in the world's No 2 economy shrank for a 10th month in December as surveys across Asia showed industry struggling with slack demand even as the policy cupboard is looking increasingly bare of fresh stimulus. The poor results triggered a 7 percent slide in Chinese shares, forcing exchanges to suspend trade for the first time, and only worsening sentiment towards metals.
"Small companies continue to weaken. The government tries to stimulate but it's not pulling the private sector along with it," said analyst Dominic Schnider of UBS Wealth Management in Hong Kong. "The private sector remains cautious on the near-term outlook in China, it's not going in aggressively. As long as we have this environment, it will be tough for metals." Schnider sees copper at $4,200 a tonne in three months.