Rout Not Over for Copper, Pro Sees Further 13% Slide

Oliver Bunic | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Copper prices, viewed widely as a barometer of economic growth, are likely to fall a further 13 percent to $6,000 per metric ton in the third quarter of 2013 on weakening demand from China, according to one analyst.

The industrial metal has tanked almost 8 percent since the start of last week on concerns over slowing growth in China and the U.S. - the world's two largest buyers of copper.

And the metal fell 1 percent on Tuesday to around $6,825 per ton as investors expressed their disappointment to news of a fall in the HSBC China Purchasing Managers Index to a two-month low of 50.5 in April.

The metal is now down over 30 percent from highs of just over $10,000 seen in early 2011 and Andrew Su, chief executive officer of Sydney-based trading firm Compass Global Markets, said the industrial metal has a lot further to fall.

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"I think copper could easily head to $6,000 per ton in the next quarter," said Su. "Broadly China will be the reason... We have statements from the People's Bank of China saying China may have to sacrifice growth for structural reform. That is a clear signal from the top that we will see a further slowing down in the Chinese economy this year," he added.

China's economy slowed unexpectedly in the first quarter, growing an annual 7.7 percent compared from 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

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China's central bank governor Zhou Xianochuan this week described the slowdown in first-quarter growth as "normal" as the world's second largest economy tries to shift the focus of growth to consumption and away from investment and exports.

Copper imports seem to be already feeling the pressure of slowing economic growth, with recent data showing refined copper imports from China fell to 218,823 tons in March, down 36.7 percent year-on-year.

And in a further bearish sign for the metal, investment bank Goldman Sachs this week lowered its copper price forecast for 2013 to $7,600 a ton from $8,453, partly based on downside risks to emerging market growth.

Meanwhile an unexpected 0.6 percent rise in U.S. March home sales has also raised concerns of a weaker appetite, analysts said.

Oversupply in the global copper market is also contributing to weakness in the metal's price, said Su.

"We've seen stockpiles increasing to over 90 percent this year. Supply is heavier than demand this year by over 300,000 metric tons and we expect this situation to continue for the next three years," he added.