January 27, 2020 / 8:33 AM / 4 months ago

METALS-China virus concerns push copper to near 8-week low

    * On course for ninth consecutive session of falls
    * Metal markets expected to track virus news for holiday

 (Updates prices)
    By Mai Nguyen
    Jan 27 (Reuters) - London copper prices on Monday fell to
near an eight-week low as concern mounted over the potential
economic impact of the newly-identified coronavirus in China
after the death toll there jumped to 81.
    Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
(LME)        , widely used as a gauge of economic health, was on
track for its ninth consecutive session of falls and hit its
lowest since Dec. 4, 2019 at $5,812 a tonne. It rebounded
slightly to $5,823 a tonne, down 1.7% at 0758 GMT.
    China is the world's biggest copper consumer. Last week, LME
copper posted its steepest weekly loss in five years of 5.5% as
the virus spread.
    China said the total number of confirmed cases in the
country had risen about 30% to 2,744, while the death toll grew
to 81 by Monday from a previous 56 reported during the weekend. 
    "The market is reacting to more risk-off news over weekend.
Fingers crossed we will get good earning reports this week from
U.S. companies or else the panic selling will be even worse," a
base metals trader, who asked not to be named, said.
    Big businesses across China are temporarily shutting stores,
advising staff to work from home, offering longer holidays or
cancelling events to guard against the spreading of the virus.
    The Chinese government extended the week-long Lunar New Year
holiday by three days to Feb. 2, set aside nearly 60.33 billion
yuan ($8.74 billion) to help contain the virus and encouraged
banks to lower lending rates for sectors affected by the
    "The additional holiday is another (period) of economic
activity shaved off this year's gross domestic product. Until
the ... holidays are over, metal prices will just track the
virus news and supportive measures," the trader said.
    The World Health Organization last week deemed the virus "an
emergency in China," but did not declare the outbreak a global
health emergency.                  
    * PRICES: LME zinc         fell 2.3% to $2,288 a tonne,
aluminium         declined 0.4% to $1,774 a tonne, nickel
        dropped 2.2% to $12,665 a tonne, lead         lost 1.7%
to $1,906.50 a tonne and tin         was down 0.9% to $16,695 a
    * SINGAPORE: Singapore, Southeast Asian travel and tourism
hub, said the outbreak will hurt its economy this year. 
    * U.S. TARIFFS: U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed
a proclamation boosting duties on derivative aluminum products
from some countries by an additional 10 percent.             
    * CODELCO: Chile state miner Codelco filed with regulators
on Friday a plan to begin exploration for lithium in its
Maricunga salt flat holdings, the country's second-richest
deposit of the metal needed for batteries.             
    * For the top stories in metals and other news, click       
    Three month LME copper                  
    Most active ShFE copper                  
    Three month LME aluminium               
    Most active ShFE aluminium               
    Three month LME zinc                    
    Most active ShFE zinc                    
    Three month LME lead                    
    Most active ShFE lead                    
    Three month LME nickel                 
    Most active ShFE nickel                   
    Three month LME tin                     
    Most active ShFE tin                             

($1 = 6.9040 Chinese yuan renminbi)

 (Reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips and Barbara Lewis)
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