Copper Drops Most in a Month on Brexit, U.S.-China Trade Concern

  • Trump-China trade war could ‘shake’ market confidence: Meir
  • U.K. Prime Minister sets out plans for leaving European Union

Copper futures post the biggest loss in almost a month amid concerns over U.S.-China trade friction and the U.K.’s plans to leave the European Union.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May offered her most explicit vision of Britain’s future relationship with its EU neighbors, pledging to quit the single market and seek a customs agreement with the bloc to deliver “a smooth and orderly Brexit.” In China, President Xi Jinping pushed back against criticism of globalization by Donald Trump and other Western populists. Copper also fell as investors trimmed positions before China’s Lunar New Year holiday.

“People are also seriously worried about Brexit again,” Richard Fu, a London-based analyst at brokerage Amalgamated Metal Trading Ltd., said by phone.

Copper futures for March delivery declined 2.4 percent to settle at $2.625 a pound at 1:12 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest loss for a most-active contract since Dec. 19. On the London Metal Exchange, copper slid 1.9 percent.

“The transformation of the Trump-China trade spat from a war of words into actual policy moves could also shake market confidence in the growth outlook going forward and put pressure on base metals,” Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone Inc. in New York, wrote in a note. 

Still, he said base metals on the LME will probably remain “well supported” for much of the first quarter absent such policy moves or a slowdown in China’s real estate market.

In other metals news:

  • Rio Tinto Group reported copper output rose 4 percent in 2016, missing company forecasts. Its shares fell 2.2 percent in London.
  • The Congolese government has dropped objections to Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Lundin Mining Corp.’s $3.8 billion combined sales of one of the country’s biggest mines to Chinese companies.
  • Indonesia may impose a 10 percent export tax on minerals.
  • Zinc and nickel also slid on the LME, while lead, aluminum and tin rose.
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