Copper slips on interest rate, Chinese demand jitters

20th April 2023

By: Reuters


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Copper prices fell on Thursday on uncertainty over further U.S. rate hikes and a sluggish recovery of demand in China, while zinc hit a five-month low after a ramp-up in inventories.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 dropped 0.5% to $8,924 a tonne by 1400 GMT after having touched the lowest in a week.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams said on Wednesday that inflation was still too high and the U.S. central bank would take measures to lower it.

Amelia Xiao Fu, head of commodity market strategy at Bank of China International, said the more hawkish rhetoric hit the market amid increasingly divergent views from Fed policymakers, spurring volatility.

"Most market participants expect a U.S. rate hike in May, but are unsure about what the path is going to be after that," she said.

An uneven economic rebound in China, the world's biggest metals consumer, is also weighing on the market, Fu added.

"In China, some of the downstream metals demand is not very robust. It's recovering, but it's gradual. Most economic growth has been concentrated in the service sector."

Also dampening the market was the settlement of a dispute between the Democratic Republic of Congo and China's CMOC Group 603993.SS, which will release stockpiles of copper for export.

The Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN, which indicates demand for imported copper into top consumer China, was at $27.50 a tonne on Wednesday, down 45% from nearly five weeks ago, SMM data on Refinitiv Eikon showed.

LME zinc CMZN3 fell 0.3% to $2,781 a tonne after touching the weakest since Nov. 4, 2022.

LME inventories MZNSTX-TOTAL have jumped 21% over the past two days and have more than tripled over the past two months.

"In zinc, over the past couple of years there's been low inventories coupled with mine tightness, but this year the supply side is improving, the fundamentals are becoming more relaxed," Fu said.

The spread between the cash and three-month zinc LME contracts CMZN0-3 has moved to a discount of $7.75 a tonne at Wednesday's close from a premium of $17.50 a week ago, indicating more availability of near-term supplies.

LME aluminium CMAL3 added 0.3% to $2,453 a tonne,tin CMSN3 rose 0.2% to $27,090, lead CMPB3 was unchanged at $2,156, while nickel CMNI3 shed 0.4% to $25,440.

Edited by Reuters



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