Copper, zinc and other base metals have slid, rattled by more concerns about the economy of top metals consumer China and adjusting after a one-day closure of Chinese markets.
Chinese share markets fell overnight, partly driven by a plunge in property companies on worries that a property pre-sale system may be scrapped.
The construction sector is one of the top sources of demand for industrial metals such as copper and zinc.
“We note developers shares declined more than 3 per cent … (with) debt fears resurfacing following last week’s positivity around tax cuts and consumption growth,” Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.
The negative sentiment in China caused the Shanghai Futures Exchange, which was closed on Monday for the Mid-Autumn Festival, to only partially track Friday’s rally on the London Metal Exchange.
Though LME copper surged 4.6 per cent on Friday in its biggest one-day advance since May 2013 and pulled back marginally on Monday, ShFE copper rose only 1.5 per cent on Tuesday.
Three-month LME copper closed 0.6 per cent down at $US6,318 a tonne.
“The move in LME copper is just an adjustment around the arb (arbitrage), given that copper rallied whilst the Chinese were off for the day,” said Nicholas Snowdon, metals analyst at Deutsche Bank in London.
Copper, zinc and nickel arbitrage windows have been open for an extended period, normally spurring imports of metals into China, but this has been curbed by uncertainty over possible cuts in import taxes, Snowdon said.
“At the moment traders are holding back on importing metal until they have clarity on the actual tax adjustment and the timing,” he said.
Premier Li Keqiang, in comments posted on Sunday, said that China would cut import and export costs for foreign firms.
LME copper inventories fell further on Tuesday to 212,925 tonnes, the lowest since January.
Commerzbank technical analyst Axel Rudolph has upgraded copper to “bullish” from “neutral”, saying in a note: “We expect the $US6,378/$US6,382.50 resistance area to soon give way, in which case our once-again bullish forecast will be confirmed, with the 200-day moving average at $US6,700.79 then being targeted.”
Bearish investors have been targeting LME zinc, which shed 2.2 per cent to finish at $2,507 a tonne. “The metal exhibits the second-largest short of the complex on our estimates at 25 per cent of open interest,” Marex’s Munro said.
LME aluminium ended the day 0.5 per cent firmer at $US2,071 a tonne, lead fell 1.7 per cent to $US2,009, nickel edged down 0.04 per cent to $US12,950 and tin dipped by 0.1 per cent to $US18,900.