July 16, 2018 / 12:32 PM / 4 months ago

METALS-Copper eases after China Q2 data

* LME/ShFE arb: bit.ly/2wZSAE

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

* Zinc touches lowest June 2017 (Adds closing prices, IMF data)

By Zandi Shabalala

LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - Copper eased along with most other metals in London on Monday after data showed that China’s economy expanded at a slower pace in the second quarter, pointing to weaker demand.

Benchmark copper edged down 0.7 percent to $6,192 per tonne on the kerb, hovering near one-year lows. Prices are down about 14 percent in 2018.

Economic activity in the world’s top consumer of metals was hobbled by efforts to contain debt, while June factory output growth weakened to a two-year low as a trade war with the United States intensified.

Julius Baer commodity analyst Carsten Menke said the Chinese GDP data pointed to overall stability in the economy but revealed some weakness in the “old economy” or infrastructure sector.

“These segments account for between 40 and 60 percent of Chinese metals demand and if you have a slowdown in the Chinese old economy this is not good,” he said.

STOCKS: Headline stocks of copper in LME-registered warehouses gained 1,525 tonnes to 257,200 tonnes, but were still at their lowest levels since January. MCUSTX-TOTAL

TARIFFS: China’s commerce ministry said on Monday it had filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding Washington’s proposed tariff list on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on July 16.

INVESTORS: Copper speculators switched to a net short position of 12,919 contracts, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said last week, the weakest position since December 2016.

GLOBAL GROWTH: The International Monetary Fund warned on Monday that escalating and sustained trade conflicts are increasingly likely, threatening to derail economic recovery and depress medium-term growth prospects.

ALUMINIUM: Aluminium added 1.1 percent to $2,054 per tonne, close to its lowest since U.S. sanctions on one of the world’s biggest aluminium producers Rusal on April 6.

COLUMN: Aluminium hasn’t escaped the broader industrial metals rout. Right now aluminium traders have much more pressing concerns in the form of a ferocious squeeze on the fast approaching July prompt date.

ALUMINIUM SUPPLY: China’s aluminium producers are responding to tighter supply conditions by boosting output, data showed. China’s June output rose by 0.8 percent to 2.83 million tonnes, which on daily basis was the highest since June 2017, according to Reuters’ calculations based on official data.

PRICES: Zinc closed 4 percent lower at $2,474 per tonne, lead fell 1.2 percent to $2,175, tin fell 1.5 percent to $19,500 and nickel skidded 2.2 percent lower at $13,670.

METAL DEMAND: China’s top steelmaking city, Tangshan, ordered steel mills to shut sintering plants and asked that coke and cement factories curb output for five days due to forecasts of heavy smog over the weekend, denting metal demand.

Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; editing by Keith Weir and Jason Neely

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