World Economy

Metals Slump Focuses on US-China Trade Dispute

Spot platinum is at its lowest level since December 2008. Spot platinum is at its lowest level since December 2008.

Copper edged higher on Tuesday but was still near a seven-month low reached in the previous session as escalating US-China trade tensions raised concerns about demand.

Asian shares fell as sentiment remained fragile in the face of tense trade relations between the United States and other major economies, with investors braced for another potentially rocky day for Chinese markets, Reuters reported.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.3% to $6,540 a ton, after hitting its lowest since Dec. 5 at $6,519 a ton on Monday.

The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slid 0.1% to 51,290 yuan ($7,656.71) a ton.

“It is fundamentals as well as macro-economic environment which are keeping pressure on copper prices,” said Meng Jie Wu, copper analyst CRU in Beijing. “Manufacturing costs are pretty high for the downstream industry.”

US President Donald Trump has this year sought to renegotiate some of the United States’ trading relationships, in particular with China. He has imposed tariffs on some imports, in turn sparking retaliatory action by other countries, raising fears of a global trade war.

Gold prices fell for a second day on Tuesday to the lowest since December as strength in the US dollar put pressure on the yellow metal, offsetting safe-haven demand amid mounting global trade tensions.

Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,239.63 an ounce after earlier dropping to its lowest since Dec. 12 at $1,237.36. In the previous session, it fell about 1%.

US gold futures were 0.1% lower at $1,240.60 an ounce.

Meanwhile, autocatalyst metal platinum also tumbled to its lowest level in nearly 10 years on Monday, as the greenback strengthened, an intensifying US-European Union trade spat pressured precious metals, and political risk in Germany weighed.

Spot platinum settled at $816 per ounce after earlier dropping more than 5% to $804, its lowest level since December 2008.

This was the biggest one-day drop since June 2013. Traders said concerns in Germany were a factor. German 10-year bond yields dipped to five-week lows on Monday, pushed down by political uncertainty in Germany, trade war fears and an expectation that the European Central Bank could buy more long-dated bonds from next year to keep eurozone borrowing costs in check.

The expectation of higher US interest rates pressured platinum and other precious metals, traders said.

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