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Copper Craters on Surging Inventories in LME Warehouses

May 1, 2019 at 14:33 by Andrew Moran

Copper futures are cratering midweek after new data found there are surging inventories in London Metal Exchange (LME) approved warehouses. In addition to sliding demand, volumes are falling as many Asian markets, the biggest consumers of the industrial metal, are closed for holidays.

July copper futures plunged $0.055, or 1.89%, to $2.85 per pound at 13:22 GMT on Wednesday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The red metal is poised for a weekly fall, down more than 2% on the week. But copper prices are advancing 7.5% year-to-date.

According to LME data, copper stockpiles at LME-approved warehouses soared 36,325 tonnes to 232,225 tonnes. This is up more than 46,000 tonnes, or 25%, since last week. Investors use these figures to gauge economic health because the industrial metal is used for a variety of economic needs, from construction to automobile manufacturing to consumer goods.

The red metal’s losses were capped on reports that progress is being made in the US-China trade negotiations. The White House has said that they are nearing the finish line and tying up some loose ends before a new trade agreement is made.

Should the trade spat reach a conclusion, it would be good for the Chinese economy, as well as copper. Beijing accounts for half of global copper demand, purchasing approximately 24 million tonnes a year. With positive economic data coming out of the world’s second-largest economy in the last week, there are expectations for a strong pick up in the second quarter, supported by fiscal and monetary stimulus.

In March, China refined copper cathodes imports surged to 279,630 tonnes, up more than 30% from February.

In industry news, the world’s biggest copper producer, Chile, reported a 3.5% decline in output to 479,080 tonnes in March. This is down from 496,361 tonnes from the same time in the previous year. Zambia, another top producer, is considering a 5% tax on copper, but critics warn that this might lead to an “extreme deficit in 2019 and 2020” for the African nation.

In other metal commodities, June gold futures tacked on $0.90, or 0.07%, to $1,286.90 an ounce. July silver futures dropped $0.11, or 0.74%, to $14.875 an ounce. July platinum futures plummeted $12.30, or 1.38%, to $879.40 per ounce. July palladium futures crashed $53.40, or 3.86%, to $1,329.30 an ounce.

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