Copper prices are lower on worries that renewed US-Chinese tensions will further damage a global economy already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stock markets and oil also fell as investors feared the prospect of more protests in Hong Kong over tough new security laws and threatened US sanctions.

“We know what trade tensions did all of last year. We don’t really want a repeat of that because it just damages sentiment more than it has already,” said independent metals consultant Robin Bhar.

“It’s difficult to see how rallies can carry on once reality starts sinking in, with all the grim economic news.”

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) had slid 1.9 per cent to $US5,287.50 a tonne by 1600 GMT.

LME copper touched a 10-week peak on Thursday after rebounding by a fifth since hitting a 45-month low on March 19.

Concern about demand in China, the world’s biggest consumer of base metals, also crimped prices after the country failed to set an annual growth target for the first time.

But China set a budget target during its annual meeting of parliament that includes fiscal stimulus equivalent to about 4.1 per cent of GDP, according to Capital Economics.

Copper inventories in warehouses tracked by Shanghai Futures Exchange dropped at the fastest rate in nearly eight months, while aluminium stocks also extended their downward trend, weekly exchange data showed.

LME nickel tumbled 4.1 per cent to $US12,255 a tonne in high volumes. “The somewhat choppy price action (is) seen (as) indicative of long liquidation,” Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.

LME aluminium fell 1.3 per cent to $US1,502 a tonne, zinc rose 0.1 per cent to $US1,984.50, lead dropped 0.7 per cent to $US1,645 and tin gave up 0.6 per cent to $US15,410.

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