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Copper Edges Up, but Rate Hikes, Growth Worries Cap Gains

LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Copper and aluminium prices rose on Friday, supported by thin inventories, but worries that central bank rate hikes would curb growth and metal demand capped gains.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) had added 0.1% to $9,838 a tonne by 1700 GMT, putting it on track to gain more than 3% this week.

The U.S. economy created far more jobs than expected in January despite the disruption to consumer-facing businesses from a surge in COVID-19 cases, data showed.

"Intensifying labour market inflation pressures and strong employment growth ... only makes it more likely that the Fed will embark on an aggressive series of interest rate increases," James Knightley at ING said in a note.

Friday's data came a day after the Bank of England raised interest rates for the second time in as many months and the European Central Bank was more hawkish than expected.

"The question in peoples' minds is what kind of impact will it have on the economic outlook," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.

"That growth concern is keeping the market from rallying, where there is underlying strong appetite for commodities both from real buyers but also from speculators and investors."

Volumes have been muted during a week-long holiday in top metals consumer China.

Also weighing on copper was a bounce in the dollar index making dollar-denominated metals more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

* The premium of LME cash zinc to the three-month contract fell to $4.50 a tonne, the weakest in nearly four months, indicating more availability of near-term supplies.

* COLUMN-China's metals imports boomed in 2021, so did its exports: Andy Home 

* LME aluminium rose 0.9% to $3,076.50 a tonne, zinc advanced 0.4% to $3,611, lead climbed 0.5% to $2,201.50, tin added 0.5% to $43,100 and nickel gained 0.6% to $23,000.

Additional reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Vinay Dwivedi and David Evans

Source: Reuters

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