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Copper climbs after US delays tariff plans

Copper prices climbed overnight after the United States said its plans to impose 10 per cent tariffs on some Chinese products would be delayed, which helped ease worries about growth and demand in top consumer China.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended up 1.5 per cent at $US5,828.5 a tonne.

Prices of the metal, seen as a gauge of economic health, fell to $US5,640 last week – their lowest since June 2017.

“Copper led the surge in base metals after the US appeared to walk back on (President Donald) Trump’s draconian tariff plans,” said Tai Wong, head of metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets.

Wong added the news triggered the covering of short copper positions – bets on lower prices.

The Trump administration will delay imposing a 10 per cent tariff on some Chinese products, including laptops and mobile phones, that had been scheduled to start next month, the Office of the US Trade Representative said.

One copper trader said the knee-jerk reaction to the headlines may not last and “we need to see more detail”.

A month-long trade truce between China and the United States was shattered earlier this month, when President Donald Trump vowed to impose a 10 per cent tariff on $US300 billion of Chinese imports from September 1.

The move would have extended levies to effectively all of the goods China exports to the United States.

Metals markets are looking ahead to Chinese investment and industrial production data – both highly correlated with demand for base metals – and house price numbers this week.

Credit data on Monday showed China’s banks extended surprisingly fewer new yuan loans in July while money supply growth and total social financing also slowed.

“Chinese credit data raises the spectre of a sharper slowdown in the Chinese economy – it being the second lowest amount in 2019,” Marex Spectron analysts said in a note.

Three-month zinc gained 1.8 per cent to $US2,319 a tonne.

Last week prices of the metal used to galvanise steel touched $US2,230.50, the lowest since October 2016.

Zinc has come under pressure from rising supplies of concentrate and expectations of a market surplus in the second half of the year.

Traders are watching Indonesia, a top producer of nickel, where the government is discussing the possibility of moving forward a ban on exports of unprocessed mineral ores that is supposed to be implemented from 2022.

Prices of the stainless steel ingredient gained 1.4 per cent to $US15,925.

The possibility of shortages has pushed up nickel prices about 35 per cent since early June.

Aluminium added 0.8 per cent to end at $US1,785, lead rose 0.1 per cent to $US2,068 and tin added 1.6 per cent to $US17,100 a tonne.





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