May 1, 2020 / 4:59 PM / 3 months ago

METALS-Industrial metals tumble on Trump threats and dire data

(Updates prices, adds U.S. data)

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - Copper and other base metals prices fell sharply on Friday as a threat by U.S. President Donald Trump to impose new tariffs on China and bleak economic data added to pessimism over the demand outlook.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 1.6% at $5,108 a tonne at 1640 GMT and on track for a weekly loss of 0.7%.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) was closed for a public holiday and will reopen on Wednesday. Some European countries were also holding public holidays.

Copper fell more than 40% from mid-January to mid-March, touching a four-year low of $4,371 as the coronavirus shuttered industry. However, prices have recovered somewhat on lockdown-related supply disruption and as top consumer China has eased coronavirus restrictions.

"The market got a bit ahead of itself ... the scale of destruction on the supply side is not even close to matching the scale of demand destruction," said Capital Economics analyst Kieran Clancy.

"Until we see the demand side of the economy back towards normal, any rallies are unlikely to be sustained."

TRADE WAR: Trump said he was concerned about China's role in the origin and spread of the coronavirus and threatened new tariffs on Beijing. Stock markets fell.

FACTORIES: U.S. manufacturing activity plunged to an 11-year low in April.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korean exports plunged 24.3% year on year in April.

JAPAN: A fall in consumer prices in Tokyo and a slump in factory activity fanned fears that the country could tip back into deflation.

EURO ZONE: The euro zone economy could fail to grow back to last year's level until as late as 2022, the European Central Bank said.

YUAN/DOLLAR: China's yuan fell against the U.S. dollar, helping to slow a week-long dollar decline that had supported metals by making them cheaper for buyers with other currencies.

TECHNICALS: Copper prices fell back below their 50-day moving average in a negative signal for prices.

SUPPLY: Analysts at Refinitiv cut their forecast for 2020 global copper mine output by 2.4% to 19.6 million tonnes. For a factbox on mine closures, click here:

CHINA DEMAND: Suggesting a recovery in demand in China, Yangshan copper import premiums, at $90 a tonne, are the highest since November 2018 and copper inventories in Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) warehouses fell by 37% in April to 230,956 tonnes. SMM-CUYP-CN CU-STX-SGH

ShFE lead stocks also fell by more than half, aluminium stocks slipped 22% and nickel inventories declined by 4%.

OTHER METALS: LME aluminium was down 0.5% at $1,487 a tonne, zinc fell 1.4% to $1,912.50, nickel slipped 2.1% to $11,935, lead lost 0.2% to $1,631.50 and tin was down 1.3% at $15,005.

Aluminium and nickel were down this week, while zinc, lead and tin were on course for weekly gains. (Reporting by Peter Hobson Additional reporting by Melanie Burton Editing by David Goodman and Alexander Smith)

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