Business World

Copper up with equities but capped by investor fears over rising virus cases

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LONDON — Copper prices firmed on Wednesday alongside a rebound in equities and a weaker dollar, though investor fears over rising coronaviru­s cases limited gains.

Three-month benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up by 1.3% at $9,440 per ton at 4:20 p.m. GMT.

Expectatio­ns for a boom in copper demand in the transition to a lower carbon economy and global economic recovery have pushed prices back up toward a near 10-year high of $9,617 a ton hit in February.

“Prices are recovering a little in line with recent developmen­ts in stock markets, which came back after sharp losses yesterday,” said Quantitati­ve Commodity Research consultant Peter Fertig.

“The outlook for copper demand is positive, but it might be a bumpy road ahead depending on coronaviru­s infections.”

Early indication­s of a rebound in European corporate earnings supported prices while a weaker dollar made commoditie­s more attractive.

Miners BHP Group and Antofagast­a posted lower quarterly copper production due to COVID-19 restrictio­ns on their work force in Chile. But BHP still raised its guidance for this year.

The pace of China’s massive inoculatio­n campaign has slowed, Reuters calculatio­ns showed. Meanwhile, cases are rising in India and Japan.

Inventorie­s of copper in LMEregiste­red warehouses continued their downward trend, falling by 900 tons to 159,450 tons. Last week, they touched their highest since November.

The amount of canceled inventory — stock earmarked for delivery — was high at 48%, usually a sign of a shortage of metal.

The LME cash copper contract was at a premium of about $8 a ton over the three-month contract, indicating a low availabili­ty of nearby metal.

China’s refined copper output rose by 18.2% year on year in March, but the monthly total of 870,000 tons was the lowest since July, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

LME aluminum gained 2.5% to $2,367 a ton after touching its highest since May 2018.

Zinc was steady at $2,814 a ton, lead gained 0.1% to $2,031 a ton, tin added 0.4% to $26,925 a ton, and nickel gained 0.7% to $16,150 a ton. —

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