Copper eases on fears of monetary tightening

Copper eased more than one per cent early yesterday, as China returned after a week-long New Year holiday in a downbeat mood while concerns about further monetary tightening in the world's largest metals consumer also weighed.

Copper for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange traded at $7,365 a tonne from $7,435 at the close on Friday and compared with a session low at $7,315.

Shanghai's benchmark third-month copper futures hit a four-week high of Y60,000 in early trade but ended at Y59,010 a tonne.

Copper prices on the LME gained nine per cent last week – the biggest weekly rise since March last year – and touched a 3-1/2-week peak of $7,450 a tonne on Friday, encouraged by an improving economic outlook.

Chinese buying, combined with weaker dollar and improving economic data, helped copper gain 140 per cent last year. But rising stocks levels have helped weigh on industrial metal prices in 2010, highlighting that demand outside China remains weak. Copper LME stocks rose 250 tonnes, near levels not seen since October 2003 at 555,025 tonnes. Aluminium traded at $2,133 versus $2,139. LME stocks for the metal used in transport, slipped 7,275 tonnes to remain near record levels at 4.59 million tonnes.

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