METALS-Copper firms as supply fears, China demand support prices

LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - Copper prices firmed on Wednesday as major miners warned that the coronavirus crisis would cut output and financial markets stabilised after two days of chaos caused by oil price falls.

Benchmark copper was up 1.9% at $5,124.50 a tonne at 1620 GMT, after tumbling almost 3% on Tuesday.

Prices of the metal used in power and construction fell to a four-year low of $4,371 in March as the coronavirus spread, but had rebounded to $5,248 by Monday as lockdowns disrupted supply and China, the biggest consumer, began to reopen.

“There’s definitely more confidence coming through,” said BMO analyst Colin Hamilton.

“China data is not brilliant but is okay ... and you are getting more signs of the supply pressures,” he said.

But supply disruptions could ease before demand for metal recovers, driving prices lower, although copper is unlikely to fall below $4,400, he said.

MARKETS: European shares steadied after Brent oil prices crashed to their lowest since 1999 then rebounded.

ANTO: Chile’s Antofagasta cut capital expenditure for the year and said copper production would be at the lower end of its guidance of 725,000-755,000 tonnes.

TECK: Canadian miner Teck Resources posted a big fall in quarterly profit and said it as suspending operations at the Antamina copper mine.

CHINA SMELTERS: Output cuts by miners are creating supply concerns in China, which is recovering from its initial demand shock from the virus outbreak.

Copper treatment charges AM-CN-CUCONC in China are in freefall, pointing to a tighter market, and Yangshan import premiums SMM-CUYP-CN are at a seven-month high of $84 a tonne.

JAPAN: Japan’s copper cable sales fell 2.4% in March from a year earlier to 57,400 tonnes.

SPECULATORS: “The sell-off (in copper) was all about longs exiting,” said Alastair Munro at brokers Marex Spectron, estimating the net speculative short in LME copper at 14% of active contracts as of Monday.


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