Renewed China demand fears weigh on copper

  • Copper stocks in LME warehouses at a third of August levels
  • Cash copper premium back on the rise

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Copper prices came under pressure on Monday from renewed worries about demand in top consumer China, expectations of a more balanced market over the coming months and a stronger dollar.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.3% at $9,620 a tonne by 1042 GMT. Prices of the metal used in the power and construction industries have mostly traded in a narrow $400 dollar range in recent weeks.

“We should be cautious, China’s property slowdown is worrying, it is dragging down base metals,” said Dan Smith, managing director at consultancy Commodity Market Analytics.

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“Copper inventories are low, but the mining side is starting to ramp up. We are going from a market in deficit to a market that will be in balance over the next three to six months.”

PROPERTY: China’s property market, accounting for a quarter of gross domestic product by some metrics, has slowed sharply since May, with sentiment shaken by a growing liquidity crisis. read more

MINING: The Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo is starting to ramp up. It produced 41,545 tonnes of copper concentrate in the third quarter, with year-to-date production of more than 77,500 tonnes as of Nov. 15.

DOLLAR: A stronger U.S. currency makes dollar-denominated metals more expensive for holders of other currencies, which can subdue demand.

INVENTORIES: Copper stocks in LME-registered warehouses are at 86,525 tonnes, about a third of the level in late August.

Cancelled warrants — metal earmarked for delivery — at 28% suggest another 24,175 tonnes is due to leave LME warehouses.

Worries about copper supplies on the LME have helped the premium for the cash contract over three-month copper to rise again to $120 a tonne. It had dropped to about $15 a tonne last week after climbing as high as $1,100 in October.

OTHER METALS: Aluminium was up 0.1% at $2,682 a tonne, zinc fell 0.3% to $3,228, lead gained 0.6% to $2,228, tin slipped 0.3% to $38,310 and nickel was up 0.2% at $20,090.

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Reporting by Pratima Desai
Editing by David Goodman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.