Copper prices fell sharply on Monday amid growing civil unrest in China over renewed COVID-19 lockdowns, while gold prices edged lower as markets awaited more signals on US monetary policy from key economic data this week.
Copper futures expiring in March sank 1.3% to $3.5835 a pound by 18:50 ET (23:50 GMT), trading near a three-week low as traders feared more demand destruction in China.
China is facing a wave of civil disobedience over its strict zero-COVID policy, with demonstrators and police clashing in several major cities amid growing public discontent over lockdown measures.
The zero-COVID policy saw a slew of lockdown measures imposed over the past three years, which severely disrupted economic activity and the movement of people.
This also dented China’s appetite for commodity imports, hurting copper prices with the prospect of weakening demand. Potentially violent protests in the country now present another headwind to economic growth.
Copper is trading down nearly 20% so far this year, as slowing economic growth across the world, due to rising inflation and interest rates, also weighed on metal demand.
Markets largely brushed off signs of tightening copper supply, as major mines in Chile and Peru curbed production.
Among precious metals, gold prices fell slightly as the dollar strengthened in anticipation of addresses from several Fed speakers, including Chairman Jerome Powell, later this week.
But the main point of focus will be key US nonfarm payrolls data on Friday. Continued signs of strength in the labor market give the Fed enough space to keep raising interest rates, which is negative for metal markets.
Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,752.08 an ounce, while gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,751.85 an ounce. Gold prices saw mild backwardation, where spot prices traded higher than futures prices, as the expiration of the December contract grows closer.
Signals from the Fed that it will hike interest rates at a slower pace in the coming months was a positive sign for gold prices, with the yellow metal rallying sharply in the past two weeks.
But uncertainty over where US interest rates will peak spurred some profit taking in bullion prices, especially with US inflation still trending well above the Fed's target range.
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