Goldman Says Only China Can Rescue Metals as Miners' Cuts Won't

Have Commodities Pushed Miners to a Tipping Point?
  • Mine supply cuts confirm bear case for metals, Goldman says
  • Metals demand in top user slips again in October, bank says

Only a substantial rise in Chinese metals demand is likely to be sufficient to balance copper and aluminum markets, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which said recent output cut by miners aren’t large enough to rescue prices. Copper fell to the lowest since 2009.

“While recent supply cuts in copper and aluminum may appear to bring the markets closer to balance, the cuts in our view are not sufficient to do so,” analysts including Max Layton said in a report received on Friday. “It is our view that the supply cuts confirm the bear case for these metals.”

The rout in metals prices spurred by China’s slowdown and a rising dollar has prompted miners including Glencore Plc and Alcoa Inc. to cut capacity this year. Copper futures in London are headed for a fifth straight weekly loss, dropping on to the lowest price in six years. Metals demand in China, the top user, slipped again in October, Goldman said, citing an in-house gauge of consumption in Asia’s top economy.

‘Work Hard’

“Only a major pickup in Chinese demand is likely to be sufficient to balance metals markets such as copper and aluminum,” Goldman said. “This is because metals supply generally continues to grow, while Chinese demand is not, so demand has to work hard to catch up.”

Copper for delivery in three months lost as much as 0.8 percent to $4,787.50 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange and traded at $4,799.50 at 4:09 p.m. in Singapore, 24 percent lower this year. Aluminum has lost 19 percent in 2015 to $1,495 a ton.

Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, said this month that it will reduce smelting capacity by 503,000 tons and alumina refining by 1.2 million tons. Glencore has said that it will curb copper production in Africa and also reined in zinc output.

Copper has “come under increasing pressure, with three-month futures nearly 10 percent lower over the past month,” Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said in a report on Friday. “The recent selloff has erased all the gains achieved after the announcement in September that Glencore would be cutting 455,000 tons of capacity, or 2.5 percent of global supply.”

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