On the heels of the crash in international markets, Shanghai copper and zinc futures yesterday dropped to the daily allowable limits, reaching the lowest levels since early this year.
The most actively traded copper futures contracts for January delivery on Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) slumped 4.01 percent to 55,780 yuan per ton, the lowest price level since February. The most actively traded zinc futures contracts for delivery in January on SHFE plummeted 6.01 percent to close at 18,205 yuan per ton, the lowest since zinc futures started trading in SHFE this April.
Last Friday, copper and zinc futures on the London Metals Exchange (LME) saw the biggest single-day drop yet. Copper futures contracts tumbled 5.11 percent to close at $6,690 per ton, while zinc futures contracts plunged 8.79 percent to close at $2,310 per ton.
Analysts said a combination of factors, including rising crude oil prices worldwide, shrinking US property sales figures and rocketing farm product prices, could signal the beginning of a US-led global economic down-cycle.
"Investors are beginning to take a more cautious attitude toward the market trend, as the US property market is showing no sign of recovery after being hit by the subprime mortgage crisis," said Zhou Jie, a non-ferrous metals analyst at China International (Shanghai) Futures Co. "The latest figures show that the even lower confidence in US home builders intensifies investors' concerns about the US property market," Zhou added.
According to the US National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the November housing market index held even with October's 19 reading, its lowest point since the series began in January of 1985.
"Builder confidence in the market for new, single-family homes remained unchanged in November due to continuing mortgage market problems," said the NAHB report released on Monday.
Industrial experts and analysts said the continuous inventory rises of non-ferrous metals has also contributed to the price slump over the past several weeks.
The latest figures show that the LME copper inventory last week reached 180,000 tons, up 50 percent form the previous month, close to the record high of 200,000 tons recorded early this year.
The copper inventory in SHFE also rose 18 percent from September to 57,000 tons last Friday.
(China Daily November 21, 2007)