BEIJING — London copper prices climbed on Tuesday as China’s property sector strengthened, but gains were capped by surging COVID-19 infections in China amid cautious trading ahead of several central bank meetings this week.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange climbed 0.8% to $8,436.5 a tonne by 0822 GMT, reversing losses in the previous session.
“The uptrend in real estate sector lifted sentiment, but the market is sensitive and the price gain can easily be reversed amid higher COVID cases and macro pressure,” a Chinese futures trader said.
Property stocks rose on Tuesday as a slew of supporting measures and data showing an increase in weekly new home sales last week buoyed the sector that is a major consumer of industrial metals.
However, worries about coronavirus infections spreading rapidly in China fueled fears it could disrupt manufacturing activities.
“The rapid surge of infections in big cities might be only the beginning of a massive wave of COVID-19 infections,” Nomura Chief China Economist Ting Lu said.
“We reckon that the incoming migration around the Chinese New Year holiday in late-January could bring about an unprecedented spread of COVID.”
The most-traded January copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was down 0.3% at 66,070 yuan ($9,466.16) a tonne.
Peruvian community members blocked a key mining corridor highway near the city of Cusco amid protests against the country’s new president, who took office just last week, a source close to the Las Bambas mine said on Monday.
The impact of the protest on production at the mine was not immediately known, but previous blockades this year at Las Bambas, one of the world’s largest copper mines and owned by China’s MMG Ltd, severely disrupted operations.
The dollar was firm on Tuesday as investors await U.S. inflation data due at 1330 GMT and interest rate decision by the Fed on Wednesday.
Among other metals, LME aluminum climbed 0.3% at $2,421 a tonne, zinc edged up 0.6% at $3,289, tin gained 0.7% to $24,150 and lead advanced 0.4% to $2,189.5.
China’s southwestern Guizhou province asked electrolytic aluminum producers to lower their electricity usage from Tuesday due to tight power supply as winter demand surged, according to metals information provider Shanghai Metals Market (SMM).
SMM estimates the move to affect around 400,000 tonnes of capacity, which accounts for around 1% of China’s more than 40 million tonnes aluminum capacity.
SHFE aluminum edged 1.1% down at 18,740 yuan a tonne, lead dipped 0.1% at 15,590 yuan, while nickel was up 1.9% at 224,180 yuan, tin added 1% at 194,870 yuan.
For the top stories in metals and other news, click or ($1 = 6.9796 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Siyi Liu and Dominique Patton; editing by Uttaresh.V and Vinay Dwivedi)