Copper fell for a second day as hawkish signals from the Federal Reserve and weak manufacturing data across major economies damped the demand outlook.
The industrial metal briefly traded below $8,000 a ton on the London Metal Exchange for the first time since late May as worries over higher-for-longer US interest rates spurred risk-off sentiment in global financial markets. The concerns were reinforced by an unexpected increase in US job openings that highlighted the durability of the labor market.
Higher interest rates will add pressure on traders and capital-intensive manufacturing businesses, creating an incentive to run down stockpiles or offload metal supplies in the spot market to minimize financing costs. Expectations for Fed policy to remain tighter than its peers has also strengthened the dollar, making commodities more expensive for buyers in other currencies.
Evidence of those commercial strains are evident on the LME, where the discount between cash contracts and three-month futures on Monday reached the widest level since 2000, in a sign that spot supply is outpacing demand.
Copper’s slump has also coincided with a sharp decline in manufacturing activity in major industrial economies. A measure of US factory activity contracted in September, while manufacturing mainly worsened across Asia.
There’s also been a steady expansion of LME inventories. Above-ground stockpiles have been severely constrained in recent years and remain at historically low levels, but the increase is a sign that supply is now starting to run ahead of demand in the spot market.
Copper declined 0.3% to $8,032 a ton on the LME as of 3:12 p.m. local time after dropping as much as 1.2% earlier. Chinese markets are closed for the Golden Week holidays.
(By Annie Lee and Mark Burton, with assistance from Eddie Spence)