Copper Futures Decline Amid Signs of Persistent Supply Glut

  • Expectation of increasing supply weighing on the metal: SocGen
  • Zinc also retreats after its highest close since May last year

Copper futures fell to a four-week low amid signs of a persistent glut.

In China, the largest user of the metal, spot copper-treatment and refining charges rose 2 percent in July as concentrate supplies increased, according to a survey by Bloomberg Intelligence. Newmont Mining Corp. sees the copper market in surplus in the near-term, before supply starts to tighten, Chief Financial Officer Laurie Brlas told a conference in New York Tuesday.

“It’s mostly a demand issue” that’s driving copper lower, Bob Haberkorn, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “There’s no change out there from supply standpoint. The only thing that’s keeping copper afloat is global stimulus money.”

Copper futures for September delivery declined 0.7 percent to settle at $2.15 a pound at 1:09 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $2.14, the lowest for a most-active contract since July 11.

After taking imports of unwrought copper and products to a record in the first half, China cut purchases to 360,000 metric tons in July, the lowest since August 2015, customs data on Monday showed.

“For metals such as copper and aluminum, there is more downside coming because supply still exceeds demand,” Robin Bhar, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in London, said by phone. “China still seems to be slowing. Copper is the most exposed to a slowing Chinese economy because of its greater use in infrastructure, construction, property market and so on.”

In other metals:

  • Zinc retreated from its highest close since May last year. It’s still up 41 percent this year on wagers that dwindling mine supply will expand an emerging shortage of the metal.
  • Lead, nickel and tin rose on the LME, while aluminum declined.
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