Spot activity slows across global copper market

Copper demand remains weak in China and Europe, with some European sources noting liquidity heading to the US while others note the market is slightly less quiet than the previous month and American sources agree that the market appears to be stabilizing from previous highs

Asia

Spot activities were limited for copper cathode units heading into the Chinese and Southeast Asian markets in the week to Tuesday June 25, with many participants in Asia leaving for the London Metals Exchange’s LME Asia Week in Hong Kong on Thursday June 27.

Fastmarkets assessed the daily benchmark copper grade A cathode premium, cif Shanghai at $(20)-0 per tonne on Tuesday, flat on a weekly basis.

Fastmarkets assessed the weekly copper grade A cathode premium, cif Southeast Asia at $50-65 per tonne on Tuesday, unchanged from a week prior.

Overall trading sentiment stayed low, with participants gathering in Hong Kong for more direction in spot trading, Fastmarkets learned.

“All traders are being hit badly at current market price level, which is unprecedently at discounts, and demand in China stays weak,” a trader from Shanghai said in Hong Kong.

“The market is so bad, [and] people are looking for some ‘comfort’ by talking to peers, with no one making money under current conditions,” a second trader from Singapore said.

In the equivalent-grade (EQ) copper cathodes market, minimal spot activity was noted in both the Shanghai and Southeast Asian copper markets, Fastmarkets learned.

Fastmarkets assessed the weekly copper EQ cathode premium, cif Shanghai at $(60)-(50) per tonne on Tuesday, narrowing upwards from $(70)-(50) per tonne week on week.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the weekly copper EQ cathode premium, cif Southeast Asia was at $(20)-(10) per tonne on the same day, unchanged from a week prior.

Europe

The European copper market was quiet, with sources noting poor demand and slow summer conditions.

“The cathode market is very quiet,” one producer source said, adding that demand was weak.

Fastmarkets’ fortnightly assessment of the copper grade A cathode premium delivered Germany was $190-210 per tonne, unchanged this session.

Participants noted that the market continued to be quiet, with high borrowing costs and approaching summer holidays.

Some sources noted that lower LME prices had added a little extra demand.

“It is quiet, but not as quiet as last month,” one trader source said, noting a slight increase in demand due to LME prices coming off.

Fastmarkets’ fortnightly assessment of the copper grade A cathode premium, cif Leghorn was $130-160 per tonne on Tuesday, unchanged from the previous session.

Fastmarkets’ fortnightly assessment of the copper grade A cathode premium, cif Rotterdam was $120-135 per tonne June 25, flat from the week before.

Import markets into Europe remained quiet and disrupted, with a large amount of liquidity heading to the US due to better premiums and also higher exchange prices, according to sources.

“The market is still a bit disrupted with material being shipped to the US,” a second trader said.

Sources noted there was little liquidity due to low demand and a wide spread between selling and buying interest levels.

The fortnightly copper EQ cathode premium, cif Europe was assessed at $90-100 per tonne, unchanged from the assessment prior.

United States

Sources agreed that there is not much activity in the market, which appears to be stabilizing after May’s historic highs.

One seller said the market “has stabilized for now, which I don’t think we have seen since pre-COVID days.”

But “there are some early warning signs that the market is looking to soften, so some renewed volatility showing by or before mid-July would not be a huge surprise,” they added.

“There has not been much activity in the market,” another trader said.

All source assessments were within the previous week’s range, with market activity confirmed on the high end.

The copper grade 1 cathode premium, ddp Midwest US remained flat at 10-14 cents per lb on Tuesday, unchanged since June 11.

LME copper inventory has risen by 51% so far in June; now at 175,475 tonnes from 116,000 tonnes at the beginning of the month.

Despite a stronger dollar weighing on the commodities complex, the LME three-month copper contract edged higher on Wednesday.

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