Bloomberg News

Copper and Nickel Slump on Concern Fed May Slow Pace of Stimulus

February 21, 2013

Copper and nickel reached this year’s lows in London on concern the Federal Reserve will slow the pace of economic stimulus in the U.S. as China seeks to rein in its real-estate market.

Some Fed policy makers said the central bank should be ready to vary the pace of bond purchases, known as quantitative easing, minutes of a meeting showed yesterday. The dollar strengthened for a fifth session in six against a basket of six currencies today. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called on local authorities to “decisively” curb property speculation.

“Fed minutes show a debate on how to end QE3,” Pengjiang “Richard” Fu, director for Asian commodities trading at Newedge Group SA in London, said by e-mail. A stronger dollar reduces commodities’ appeal as an alternative investment.

Copper for delivery in three months fell 1.3 percent to $7,857 a metric ton by 10:26 a.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Prices touched the lowest level since Dec. 24 and neared the 200-day moving average at about $7,831. Copper for delivery in May slid 1.4 percent to $3.5745 a pound on the Comex in New York.

China and the U.S. are the world’s two biggest copper consumers, and the Copper Development Association says building generates about 40 percent of demand for the metal, used in pipes and wiring. Nickel is used to make stainless steel, utilized in products from sinks to door and window fittings, the British Stainless Steel Association’s website shows.

Nickel tumbled 3.1 percent to $16,640 a ton in London after reaching the lowest price since Nov. 27. Prices dropped below the 200-day moving average at about $16,917, a sign to some analysts who study technical charts of potential further drops.

Copper inventories monitored by the LME, up 31 percent this year to the highest since November 2011, rose for a sixth session to 420,250 tons, daily figures showed. Stockpiles more than doubled to a record in Malaysia’s Johor in 2013.

“There is so much copper still sitting in warehouses around the world that even if more nations’ economies were growing faster, inventories would not be falling fast enough,” Mark Lewon, president of Salt Lake City-based scrap recycler Utah Metal Works Inc., said by e-mail yesterday.

Tin, lead, zinc and aluminum slid in London.

To contact the reporter on this story: Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London at atroszkiewic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net


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