Copper Prices Muted on Mixed Chinese Trade Data, Gold Steady

By Ambar Warrick Copper prices saw volatile swings on Monday as investors weighed data showing that China continued to accumulate the red metal despite a manufacturing slowdown, while gold held steady ahead of key U.S. inflation data due later in the week. 

As of 2155 ET (0155 GMT), copper futures rose 0.1% to trade at $3.555 a pound, after falling as much as 0.2%. While China’s overall imports grew slower than expected in July, customs data showed that the country’s pace of copper buying remained steady.

Copper and copper products imported into the country totaled 463,693.8 tonnes in July, compared with 424,280.03 tonnes last year, Reuters reported.

The data contrasts trends showing a sharp decline in Chinese manufacturing activity. But China logged a record trade surplus in July, underpinned by strong exports as overseas demand for its manufactured goods remained strong. 

Copper prices have been on a downturn since last week, when a swathe of weak industrial activity readings from across the globe drove concerns over sluggish demand. China’s factory activity unexpectedly contracted in July. But this trend may change in the coming months as more parts of the country emerge from COVID-related lockdowns. 

A stronger-than-expected U.S. payrolls reading also propped up the dollar, pressuring most metal prices. The reading saw investors raise their expectations of a sharp interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve next month.

Focus now turns to key U.S. CPI inflation data, due on Wednesday, for more cues on monetary policy. A stronger-than-expected reading is likely to force the Fed into hiking lending rates sharply- a move that will be detrimental to metal prices. 

Among precious metals, Gold prices held steady despite strength in the dollar, as concerns grew over a global recession. The yellow metal benefited from increased safe haven demand last week, amid growing tensions between the United States and China. 

Spot gold was largely unchanged around $1,774 an ounce, while Gold futures were steady just below $1,800. Demand for gold is expected to be underpinned in the coming days by uncertainty over the scale of U.S. interest rate hikes. 

Platinum Futures dropped 0.7%, while Silver shed 0.2%.


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