US President Donald Trump’s threat of new tariffs on China and bleak economic data has forced the price of copper and other base metals down.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 1.6 per cent at $US5,108 a tonne on Friday and on track for a weekly loss of 0.7 per cent.
The Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) was closed for a public holiday and will reopen on Wednesday. Some European countries were also holding public holidays.
Copper fell more than 40 per cent from mid-January to mid-March, touching a four-year low of $US4,371 as the coronavirus shuttered industry. However, prices have recovered somewhat on lockdown-related supply disruption and as top consumer China has eased coronavirus restrictions.
“The market got a bit ahead of itself … the scale of destruction on the supply side is not even close to matching the scale of demand destruction,” said Capital Economics analyst Kieran Clancy.
“Until we see the demand side of the economy back towards normal, any rallies are unlikely to be sustained.”
Trump said he was concerned about China’s role in the origin and spread of the coronavirus and threatened new tariffs on Beijing. Stock markets fell.
US manufacturing activity plunged to an 11-year low in April.
South Korean exports plunged 24.3 per cent year on year in April.
A fall in consumer prices in Tokyo and a slump in factory activity fanned fears that the country could tip back into deflation.
The euro zone economy could fail to grow back to last year’s level until as late as 2022, the European Central Bank said.
China’s yuan fell against the US dollar, helping to slow a week-long dollar decline that had supported metals by making them cheaper for buyers with other currencies.
Copper prices fell back below their 50-day moving average in a negative signal for prices.
Analysts at Refinitiv cut their forecast for 2020 global copper mine output by 2.4 per cent to 19.6 million tonnes.
Suggesting a recovery in demand in China, Yangshan copper import premiums, at $US90 a tonne, are the highest since November 2018 and copper inventories in Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) warehouses fell by 37 per cent in April to 230,956 tonnes.
ShFE lead stocks also fell by more than half, aluminium stocks slipped 22 per cent and nickel inventories declined by 4 per cent.
LME aluminium was down 0.5 per cent at $US1,487 a tonne, zinc fell 1.4 per cent to $US1,912.50, nickel slipped 2.1 per cent to $US11,935, lead lost 0.2 per cent to $US1,631.50 and tin was down 1.3 per cent at $US15,005.
Aluminium and nickel were down this week, while zinc, lead and tin were on course for weekly gains.