LONDON : Copper prices fell on Thursday and were down almost 20 per cent in the second quarter, the biggest quarterly fall since 2011, after COVID lockdowns in China and slowing economic growth curtailed demand.
Other industrial metals were also headed for their biggest quarterly fall in several years, down between 20 per cent and 40 per cent.
Many analysts fear further declines in the near term, as central banks push ahead with rapid interest rate rises that will stifle growth.
"We still see metals falling as a recession in the U.S. is fully priced in," said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 1.1 per cent at $8,306 a tonne by 1047 GMT and down 19.9 per cent since the start of April.
Copper fell 19.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, when COVID-19 spread worldwide. There has been no other quarterly plunge on that scale since 2011.
Briesemann said copper could slip as low as $7,000-$7,500 in Q3, but prices should rise towards the year-end.
MARKETS: Global stock markets have suffered the worst first half of the year on record.
DOLLAR: The dollar is set for its biggest quarterly gain since 2016, making metals priced in the currency costlier for non-U.S. buyers.
CHINA: Chinese factory activity rose slightly in June after three months of contraction caused by COVID lockdowns.
JAPAN: Japan's manufacturing output saw its biggest monthly drop in two years in May.
PRICES: LME aluminium was down 0.5 per cent at $2,459.50 a tonne and down almost 30 per cent in Q2; zinc fell 3.2 per cent to $3,252.50 and was 22 per cent lower in Q2; nickel slipped 2 per cent to $23,305 and was down almost 27 per cent in Q2; lead was 0.7 per cent lower at $1,920 and has fallen 20 per cent in Q2; tin rose 0.1 per cent to $26,790 but has plunged 38 per cent in Q2.
The quarterly declines for all five metals were the biggest in at least a decade.