Aluminum in London retreated from an 18-month high as industrial metals declined after worse-than-expected manufacturing data from China, the biggest consumer.
The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange dropped as much as 0.6 percent to $2,064.50 a metric ton and was at $2,069.50 at 3:54 p.m. in Hong Kong. Prices closed at $2,076 yesterday, the highest since Feb. 20 last year. Copper fell 0.2 percent to $6,995 a ton.
A gauge of Chinese manufacturing from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed a preliminary August reading of 50.3, trailing all 22 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The measure dropped from 51.7 in July and was the lowest since May. The index followed data last week that showed a slump in credit growth and a slowdown in industrial output.
Signs of a slowing economy in China “will dampen sentiment,” said Helen Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst at UOB Kay Hian Ltd. “This will affect the demand for metals.”
China’s refined copper imports fell to 244,959 tons in July, the lowest since May 2013, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. That is down from 255,041 tons in June and 291,846 tons a year earlier.
In New York, futures for December fell 0.6 percent to $3.178 a pound, while the metal for delivery in October advanced 1.4 percent to close at 50,230 yuan ($8,166) a ton in Shanghai.
On the LME, lead dropped for the first time in five days. Nickel and zinc also declined, while tin was little changed.
(An earlier version of this story corrected the timeframe and date in the headline, first and second paragraphs.)