Copper slumped to the lowest level in almost eight weeks and nickel tumbled to a 12-week low after China called for property curbs and Federal Reserve minutes showed policy makers advocating more flexibility in stimulus.
Copper for delivery in three months lost as much as 1 percent to $7,880 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, the lowest since Dec. 28, before trading at $7,911.25 at 2:22 p.m. in Shanghai. Nickel dropped as much as 2.4 percent to $16,754 a ton, the lowest since Nov. 27.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called on local authorities to “decisively” curb real estate speculation and take steps to rein in the property market after data showed prices surged the most in two years last month. Several Federal Reserve policy makers said the U.S. central bank should be ready to vary the pace of bond purchases amid a debate over the risks and benefits of further quantitative easing.
“The Fed minutes and concerns over China’s property sector hurt market sentiment, weighing down China’s stocks market and commodities,” said Peng Guoliang, an analyst at Dadi Futures Co. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost as much as 3.7 percent today, the most since November 2011, to 2,309.171.
Copper for May delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange declined 2.3 percent to 57,330 yuan ($9,185) a ton, while the May contract on the Comex in New York fell 1 percent to $3.5905 per pound.
On the LME, aluminum slid to a three-week low as analysts estimated stockpiles in China may have climbed to a record level. Lead fell to a four-week low, zinc to the lowest level in three weeks and tin was at the lowest level since Jan. 2.