METALS-Copper tumbles to 40-month low on fears for economy, demand – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.S. – March 16, 2020)

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) – Copper prices slid on Monday to the lowest since November 2016 on worries that lockdowns in Europe and the United States to tackle the coronavirus would further erode metals demand.

But the falls in industrial metals of around 1-4% were more measured than in equity and oil markets, which saw plunges of 10% or more. Around half of metals demand comes from China, where new virus cases have fallen sharply and the government is expected to roll out major stimulus spending.

“Despite the very, very negative numbers for China over the weekend in terms of industrial production and fixed asset investment, I would still say that the general view is that China should recover from here,” said analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer in Zurich.

Industrial output in China, the world’s biggest copper user, contracted at the sharpest pace in 30 years in the first two months of the year, data showed on Monday.

A China-based metals analyst said: “Diving data in February is what everybody has anticipated, but my worry is March. People think things are going back to normal after utilisation rates recover, but they ignore the permanent loss of the supply chain.”

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