Glencore inventory sale could sink world zinc prices further – by Eric Onstad (Reuter U.S. – September 18, 2015)

LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) – Substantial amounts of base metal zinc could be released onto world markets, weighing further on fast falling prices, as major producer Glencore implements a plan to liquidate some of its commodity inventories to help pay off debt.

The overhang of inventories in London Metal Exchange (LME) storage facilities, which has surged more than 40 percent since early August, has wrong-footed investors who had earlier this year targeted zinc as a top bet in metals due to closures of big mines that would create shortages.

Zinc, mainly used to galvanize steel to protect against rust in autos and construction, has slumped from being one of the best performing industrial metals earlier in the year to one of the worst due to the inventory change.

“It’s been a big shock to the market, this massive flood into the LME warehouses,” said Stephen Briggs, metals strategist at BNP Paribas.

But mining and trading company Glencore may add further to a plentiful supply situation after announcing a raft of measures to slash its net debt of $30 billion.

At interim results last month, Glencore said it was cutting “readily marketable inventories” by $1.5 billion. Last week it said it was further reducing working capital by an additional $1.5 billion, partly from liquidating more inventories.

Swiss-based Glencore gave no details about which inventories it was selling off and a spokesman declined to comment.

Glencore had inventories worth $23.6 billion at the end of June, but financial statements did not provide a breakdown of inventories by commodity. Glencore has operations ranging from metals to coal to grains.

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