METALS-Copper hits over three-year low as growth fears deepen on U.S. travel curbs

Mai Nguyen

curbs@ (Adds quotes, updates prices)

SINGAPORE, March 12 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell to multi-year lows on Thursday as the United States shocked world markets after suspending travel from Europe to stem the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which world health officials have labelled a pandemic.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) fell as much as 2.2% to $5,406.50 a tonne, its lowest since November 2016, while the most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) hit a 40-month low of 42,880 yuan ($6,148.73) a tonne.

"China is improving but the rest of the world is so far deteriorating. Eventually the external demand shock in Europe, the United States and the rest of the world may also affect China's exports," said analyst Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities.

U.S. President Donald Trump suspended travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days starting on Friday, compounding fears that the hit to businesses and the world economy from the virus would be far worse than earlier expected.

Trump also outlined several economic steps to cushion the economic carnage from the outbreak.

"The market in general is very disappointed about the speech by President Trump. There's not much details and he didn't specify what the size of the stimulus is," Lau said.


* OTHER PRICES: LME aluminium eased 0.4% to $1,668.50 a tonne, nickel fell 0.6% to $12,340 a tonne, zinc decreased 0.4% to $1,979.50 a tonne, while lead was down 0.4% to $1,758.50 a tonne.

* SHFE PRICES: ShFE aluminium declined 0.7% to 12,750 yuan a tonne, nickel dropped 3% to 99,710 yuan a tonne, zinc lost 0.9% to 15,860 yuan a tonne, while lead was down 1% to 14,350 yuan a tonne.

* CHINA: China confirmed only eight new coronavirus infections in Hubei province, the first time the epicentre of the pandemic recorded a daily tally in single-digits.

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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

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

ARBS ($1 = 6.9738 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; editing by Uttaresh.V and Devika Syamnath)

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