Copper prices are sliding this week after downbeat Chinese economic data raised new fears that the world’s second-largest economy is slowing more quickly than expected. The industrial metal has fallen more than 2.5% in the first two sessions of the week, a sign that some investors are still uneasy about the U.S.-China trade war despite hopes for coming talks.
The most-active copper futures contract for December delivery fell 0.5% to $2.6270 a pound Tuesday. Prices had rebounded from a multiyear low earlier in the month, lifted by optimism that the world’s two largest economies would soon reach a trade cease-fire. They stand about 12% below their April highs and roughly flat for the year. Figures early in the week have shown Chinese industrial production rose less than expected last month. Because China accounts for about half the globe’s copper consumption, the industrial metal is very sensitive to economic data from the country and investor sentiment about its growth prospects. Data for fixed-asset investment and retail sales also missed expectations. “It’s becoming apparent in the economic numbers how the trade conflict is affecting a wider part of the economy than we initially expected,” said
an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. Hedge funds and other speculative investors remain cautious on copper. Although they have lowered net bearish bets on prices in recent weeks, wagers that the industrial metal would fall still outnumbered bullish bets by about 50,000 contracts during the week ended Sept. 10, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Bearish bets have outnumbered bullish ones since late April. Elsewhere in commodities Tuesday, oil prices fell on signals that production in Saudi Arabia could return more quickly than expected following attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure over the weekend. Saudi Energy Minister
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman
said the kingdom had restored about half the lost production and that output levels would return to normal by the end of September. Brent crude, the global gauge of oil prices, slid 6.5% to $64.55 a barrel on the
its largest one-day drop since Aug. 1. West Texas Intermediate futures ended down 5.7% at $59.34 a barrel, also logging their biggest decline in six weeks. The reversal came after oil prices had one of their largest-ever percentage gains on Monday, soaring on anxiety about supply shortages. —Joe Wallace contributed to this article. Write to Amrith Ramkumar at email@example.com
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