Mining’s $143 Billion Stock Rout Signals Escalating China Fears – by Jesse Riseborough (Bloomberg News – July 8, 2015)

Fears of faltering Chinese growth ignited a $143 billion meltdown in global mining stocks as investors confront sputtering demand in the world’s biggest consumer of commodities.

The Bloomberg World Mining Index of 79 producers dropped 17 percent in the past 10 days as prices for industrial metals such as copper, nickel and aluminum sank to six-year lows. The price of iron ore, a key profit driver for top-ranked BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group, slumped 10 percent Wednesday to its lowest since at least 2009 as new supply floods the market.

China is set to grow at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century, sapping the country’s demand for commodities and crimping mining companies’ profits. Chinese authorities are struggling to contain a $3.5 trillion stock rout with a slew of market-boosting measures, rattling investors.

“It’s pretty bleak at the moment, there’s no getting away from that,” James Sutton, a portfolio manager at JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $2 billion Natural Resources Fund in London, said in an interview. “Overwhelmingly it’s technical factors that are driving the severity of the move. Amazing moves to happen, just whipsawing around like this.”

Chinese demand for commodities is falling, with imports of iron ore in May contracting 12 percent to 70.87 million metric tons from the previous month. Imports of coal plunged 28 percent in the month to their lowest in more than four years.

Sentiment Dire

Prices of industrial commodities are also volatile. Copper sank as much as 5.9 percent on the London Metal Exchange on Tuesday before rebounding up to 3.9 percent the next day. Nickel tumbled 9 percent on Tuesday and then gained 3.8 percent.

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