GO
Loading...

METALS-Copper falls after China drains cash from its market

Susan Thomas
Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014 | 6:27 AM ET

* China's central bank drains $7.9 bln from the market

* Alcoa to shut Port Henry aluminium smelter in Australia

* Coming Up: U.S. New York Fed manufacturing at 1330 GMT

(Recasts, updates prices, adds comment, changes dateline from SYDNEY)

LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Copper fell on Tuesday after China's central bank unexpectedly drained funds from the market and due to worries that a harsh winter in the United States could drag on global growth.

The People's Bank of China issued cash-draining forward bond repurchase agreements on Tuesday, sucking 48 billion yuan ($7.9 billion) out of the system, pushing up the cost of money after unexpectedly strong credit growth in January.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.3 percent at $7,153 a tonne by 1057 GMT, falling after two sessions of gains. It hit an intra-day peak of $7,206.50 a tonne on Monday, rebounding from two-month lows near $7,000 touched early this month.

"The PBOC's decision is predominantly on traders' minds today, and this is pushing the copper price lower," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade in Dublin, said.

"Given that the Chinese growth (rate) is already a major concern for many, the reduction in liquidity by the PBOC is not helping the metal."

China is the biggest consumer of copper, which is used in construction and power cables.

It imported record volumes of copper last month, partly for consumption and partly to ease tight credit conditions. Goldman Sachs sees Chinese bonded inventories at 700,000 tonnes, up from 550,000 tonnes since the beginning of the year, it said in a note.

In the week ahead, the focus will be on the U.S. Federal Reserve's tapering of monetary stimulus, with the release of its minutes on Wednesday, and on China's slowdown, with a purchasing managers' index due on Thursday. Both factors have been behind this year's sell-off in emerging markets.

U.S. manufacturing last week recorded its biggest drop in more than 4-1/2 years in January as cold weather disrupted production. It was the latest indication the world's biggest economy got off to a weak start this year.

U.S. markets will reopen after being closed for the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, which may help trading volumes recover and set direction.

Global miner BHP Billiton topped market forecasts with a 31 percent rise in first-half profit on Tuesday but gave a cautious outlook on Chinese growth.

The company's copper output grew by 6 percent, and total full-year 2014 production is seen unchanged at 1.7 million tonnes. It also expected the copper market to move back into deficit in the medium term and for supply surpluses in nickel and aluminium to ease.

Benchmark three-month aluminium on the LME firmed after producer Alcoa Inc announced it would close its Point Henry smelter and two rolling mills in Australia, removing around 190,000 tonnes of annual capacity, equal to about 10 percent of the country's total output.

The LME three-month aluminium contract was up 0.3 percent at $1,738 per tonne from $1,732 at the close on Monday and has risen 1.7 percent so far this month after falling 5 percent last month and more than 13 percent last year.

United Company Rusal, the world's largest aluminium producer, also indicated on Tuesday that its output of the metal could fall to 3.5 million tonnes this year from 3.9 million last year.

The announcements underscored the dire market conditions facing producers amid a flood of new Chinese capacity.

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Three month LME tin ($1 = 6.0641 Chinese yuan)

(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Sydney; editing by Jane Baird)

  Price   Change %Change
AA
---
COPPER
---