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Copper price retreats on risk-off sentiment, profit-taking

Cathode copper plates. (Stock Image)

Copper price fell on Friday, hit by profit-taking and risk-off sentiment in wider financial markets on worries about surging inflation.

Copper for delivery in March retreated on the Comex market in New York, touching $4.5080 per pound ($9,917 per tonne), down 3.2% compared to Thursday’s closing.

Read also: Goldman sees copper price “breakout”, risk of “extreme scarcity episode”

Global stock markets fell after US consumer prices showed the biggest annual increase in 40 years, which is expected to prompt tighter monetary policy from the US Federal Reserve.

“Today it’s really risk-off sentiment in financial markets and the dollar is up based on yesterday’s CPI. There’s also likely some profit-taking after the run-up we’ve seen,” said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.

“In terms of the bigger picture, there’s a general cooling of the economy in China. Infrastructure and property are both key in terms of driving metals demand and we do not expect a quick reversal in either.”

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

Menke forecasts LME copper to ease to $9,500 a tonne in three months and to $8,750 in 12 months.

The Yangshan copper premium, an indication of physical demand in China, slid to $38 a tonne on Friday, the weakest since July last year and down from $102 two months ago.

Goldman Sachs believes the copper market has just two years of primary production growth left. 

In this week’s report, Goldman reiterated its bullish forecast for copper to average $11,875 a tonne ($5.40/lbs) in 2021, rising steadily to $15,000 ($6.80/lbs) during 2025.

($1 = 6.3593 Chinese yuan)

(With files from Reuters)