Copper fell alongside stocks and other risk assets Friday as weak economic data in China and Europe added to downbeat sentiment about global growth.
Copper for March delivery fell 1.2% to $2.7330 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are down about 17% from their June four-year highs on fears that slower global economic growth will crimp demand for materials used heavily in construction and manufacturing.
Data released Friday showed a larger-than-expected deepening in China’s economic downturn last month. Slipping retail sales and industrial-production figures piled further pressure on Beijing to halt a slowdown in 2019 while dealing with its continuing trade conflict with the U.S.
“Without the front loading of exports, this was seen as a better illustration of the poor state of the Chinese economy,” said Alastair Munro, a broker at Marex Spectron, in a note.
China accounts for about half of global metals demand, and concerns about trade tensions and a weakening economy have pummeled materials of late.
Adding to the downbeat tone Friday, purchasing managers’ surveys separately showed that French business activity unexpectedly contracted for the first time in 2½ years, according to IHS Markit, while Germany’s composite purchasing managers index reached its lowest level in four years.
The tepid figures pushed investors toward the dollar, also making commodities more expensive for overseas buyers. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 other currencies, rose 0.5%.
Elsewhere in base metals, aluminum for delivery in three months fell 0.6% to $1,920 a metric ton. Zinc dropped 1.4% to $2,529.50, tin edged down 0.2% to $19,365, nickel fell 0.3% to $10,815 and lead was down 0.7% at $1,935.50.
Among precious metals, Comex gold for February delivery dropped 0.8% to $1,237.50 a troy ounce, hurt by the dollar’s strength. Most-active silver futures fell 1.8% to $14.585, platinum shed 1.8% to $783.30 and palladium slumped 2.7% to $1,158.90.
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