Copper Slips on Chinese Property Market Jitters

Beckett Bronze produces cast bronze precision-machined parts and continuous cast bars. Castings are manufactured at the East 20th Street plant. The West 23rd Street plant produces finished machined parts and has about 75 machine tools including CNC lathes.

LONDON—Copper prices slipped on Thursday, with Chinese property market jitters applying some light pressure to the base metal.

July copper contracts fell 0.2% to $3.062 a pound at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

June gold contracts, meanwhile, gained 0.2% to $1,304.20 a troy ounce, with the dollar easing after months of rising. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measure the dollar against a basket of currencies, was slightly lower.

Copper prices fell despite a solid set of Chinese economic purchasing managers index data.

While the figures signaled a continuing pickup in activity, “some new liquidity requirements, spot checks on trust funds and a clampdown on shadow financing are getting people nervous, and that disproportionately affects the property sector,” said Colin Hamilton, managing director of commodities research at BMO Capital Markets.

London Metal Exchange three-month copper futures fell after that release, but buying in the hours before suggested more demand may materialize as traders close out their positions ahead of the end of the month, according to Alastair Munro, a broker at Marex Spectron in a note.

Aluminum prices rose as supply questions distracted traders from geopolitical trade fears. LME aluminum for delivery in three months rose 0.4% at $2,280 a metric ton.

Century Aluminum Co mpany said late Wednesday that it had been forced to cease operations at one of the three production lines at its Sebree, Ky. smelter due to an electrical failure. It may take as long as three months to restore power. Alcoa Corp. said Monday that its smelter in southern Indiana had suffered a similar power outage.

The troubles at the U.S. smelters added to perceptions of squeezed aluminum supply, with the global market excluding China suffering its sharpest quarterly deficit on record after output from United Co. Rusal was put in jeopardy by U.S. sanctions on certain Russian companies and individuals.

That tightness may ease if the U.S. Treasury lifts sanctions on Oleg Deripaska, the Russian billionaire who controls Rusal’s holding company EN+ Group. Reports from Bloomberg suggested the Treasury had set a target for Mr. Deripaska to reduce his stake in EN+ Group to the mid-40% from its current level of 66%.

In April, EN+ Group signaled its intention to comply with U.S. requirements in exchange for the removal of sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration moved ahead with its plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The duties will go into effect on Friday.

—Benjamin Parkin contributed to this article.

Write to David Hodari at

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