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Copper prices fell for a fifth consecutive week as the trade confrontation between the United States and China intensified.
Investors fear the dispute will damage economic growth and weaken the outlook for metals demand, with industrial metals prices down sharply from last summer when it began.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) did not trade in closing rings on Friday but was bid down 0.7 per cent at $US6,055 a tonne.
The metal used in power and construction has lost around 1.2 per cent this week and is trading near Monday’s 3-1/2 month low of $US6,007.50.
Harsher trade rhetoric from the US and China was pushing prices lower, Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said.
He said copper’s solid fundamentals meant prices were likely to recover to about $US6,500 by the end of the year.
China struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States on Friday, suggesting a resumption of talks between the world’s two largest economies would be meaningless unless the US changed course.
Media reported that the US was close to a deal to remove tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada and Mexico.
The White House said it was delaying a decision on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and parts for as long as six months.
European and Chinese stock markets fell and the US dollar was near two-year highs against a basket of major currencies, making metals more expensive for non-US buyers.
China’s yuan has slumped around 3.5 per cent against the US dollar since mid-April.
China is the world’s largest consumer of metals.
Chinese copper import premiums at $US47 are down from $US120 in October and the lowest in two years.
Cash nickel on the LME flipped to a $US21 premium against the three-month contract early on Friday, the highest since 2011, before dropping back to a discount of $US11.
Cash zinc traded at a discount of around $US80 at the start of May.
The change suggests there is less immediately available metal.
Headline stocks of nickel in LME-registered warehouses meanwhile slipped to 164,400 tonnes, the lowest since March 2013.
LME nickel was not included in the closing ring session but was down 1.3 per cent at $US12,015 a tonne in electronic trading.
The premium of cash zinc over the three-month contract was at $US150.50 after rising to the highest in more than 20 years.
Zinc prices finished down 1.4 per cent at $US2,600 a tonne.
LME aluminium ended down 1.2 per cent at $US1,837 a tonne, lead fell 0.6 per cent to $US1,826 a tonne and tin closed up 0.2 per cent at $US19,500 a tonne.
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