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Copper Adds to Losses as US-China Trade War Escalates

June 19, 2018 at 16:47 by Andrew Moran

Copper futures are extending their losses on Tuesday as the trade war between the US and China escalates. Copper, as well as other industrial metals, are sliding on news that Washington plans to impose $200 billion worth of tariffs on China, the world’s largest consumer of the red metal.

July copper futures tumbled $0.05, or 1.65%, to $3.053 per pound at 16:23 GMT on Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, copper prices shed five cents, bringing their year-to-date losses to just under 8%.

The Chinese government announced that it would retaliate against the US government’s proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports. This then prompted President Donald Trump to ask his administration to find $200 billion more in Chinese goods that could be slapped with 10% tariffs. Should Beijing retaliate against those tariffs, then Trump wants to locate an additional $200 billion in goods to target.

US-China tensions could heighten in the coming weeks after the US Department of Commerce confirmed that Chinese common alloy aluminum sheet products are being sold in the US at less than fair market value. This means they will be subject to an anti-dumping duty of 167.16%, which could change sometime this year.

A rallying dollar also contributed to copper’s woes on Tuesday as the greenback surged 0.34% to 95.09. A stronger buck is bad for commodities priced in dollars because it makes it more expensive for foreign investors to purchase.

Copper’s losses were capped by greater industrial demand and positive construction numbers in the world’s second-largest economy. Moreover, copper prices might benefit from reports that there could be a work stoppage and a production shortage in Chile over labor disputes.

In other metals markets, August gold futures dipped $2.50, or 0.20%, to $1,277.60 per ounce. July silver futures fell $0.10, or 0.61%, to $16.45 an ounce. July platinum futures lost $17.60, or 1.99%, to $866.30 an ounce. July palladium futures dropped $19.80, or 2.01%, to $963.10 per ounce. Iron ore and steel futures contracts slid 5.5% and 3.5%, respectively.

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