Metal prices slide on strong dollar, China woes

20th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

The prices of metals slumped to multi-year low points this week owing mainly to a strengthening dollar and persistent concerns over weaker Chinese demand, analysts said.

In a report Tuesday, US investment bank Goldman Sachs noted that metals prices had fallen by between 12 and 17 percent since late October.

"Over this period, China's economic data for October has disappointed, the US dollar has strengthened... and the broader commodity complex has moved lower," it added.

On Thursday, they were near 6.5-year lows for copper at $4,573 a tonne, aluminium at $1,453 a tonne and for zinc at $1,487 a tonne.

Nickel, used to make stainless steel, meanwhile struck its lowest level for almost 12.5-years on Friday, at $8,800 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange -- hit in particular by the industrial metal's supply glut.

On the precious metals market meanwhile, gold sank Wednesday close to its lowest level in nearly six years, as the dollar rallied on prospects for a December interest rate hike from the US Federal Reserve.

The price of gold slumped to $1,063.55 an ounce, forging the lowest level since February 2010.

"Gold slumped to fresh lows ... as expectations mounted around the Fed taking action to increase interest rates in the December meeting," said FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga.

"The direction of gold continues to be dictated by US interest rate expectations and dollar appreciation has attributed to the factors repelling investors from this metal."

Prospects are mounting that the Fed could lift US interest rates next month for the first time in almost a decade.

Signs of a pick-up in US inflation, alongside recent bright jobs data, has reinforced those expectations.

Minutes from the Fed's October 27-28 monetary policy meeting published this week showed most US central bank officials expect a rate hike in December and have moved past worries about slowing global growth that had prevented a raise in September.

Fed chief Janet Yellen had said earlier in the year she expected an increase by 2016 but a hike was put off several times during the summer as world markets were hammered by worries about China and the global outlook.

The euro meanwhile came under pressure following Wednesday's release of the minutes, hitting a seven-month low at $1.0617.

At the same time, the euro has weakened sharply against the greenback from expectations of more European Central Bank stimulus aimed at supporting the eurozone economy, according to analysts.

A strong dollar makes raw materials priced in the US unit more expensive for holders of rival currencies. That tends to weigh on demand and price levels.

Commodity markets in general are also being hit by concerns over China's weakening economy.

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© 2015 AFP

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