London copper drops as new COVID-19 variant fuels slowdown concerns

Nov. 26 (Reuters) – Copper prices in London fell on Friday as a newly identified COVID-19 variant in South Africa, and expectations of faster-than-expected rate hikes in the US raised concerns about an economic slowdown.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.6% to $9,741 per tonne at 0250 GMT. January’s most traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1.2% to 71,050 yuan ($11,115.63) per tonne.

South African scientists have discovered a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications. The new variant announcement prompted Britain to introduce travel restrictions for South Africa and five neighboring countries. read more

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Minutes from the last policy meeting of the US Federal Reserve show that a growing number of policymakers are open to accelerating the central bank’s winding-down program. read more

An early rate hike could reduce liquidity in financial markets and slow the recovery in the world’s largest economy. Copper is often used as a gauge of global economic health.

RAW MATERIALS

* LME aluminum fell 0.4% to $2,706.5 per tonne, nickel fell 0.3% to $20,615 per tonne and lead traded 0.4% higher at $2,280.5.

* LME tin was flat for the day, peaking at $40,680 a ton on Thursday amid tight supplies. read more

* ShFE aluminum fell 0.4% to 19,355 yuan per ton, nickel fell 2% to 151,550 yuan per ton, lead gained 1% to 15,365 yuan per ton, zinc fell 0.7% to 23,605 yuan per ton and tin fell by 1.3% to 286,170 yuan a ton.

* Communities in Peru’s Ayacucho region say they will resume protests against the mining sector if leftist President Pedro Castillo’s government violates what they call a signed agreement to shut down mines, local leaders told Reuters. read more

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MARKETS NEWS

* The safe-haven yen rebounded and the South African rand collapsed on Friday as investors turned cautious after Britain raised the alarm about a newly identified coronavirus strain spreading across the African nation.

* Equities fell and headed for their biggest weekly decline in nearly two months, while safe-haven assets such as bonds and the yen soared as a new virus variant added to swirling concerns about future growth and higher US interest rates. read more

($1 = 6.3919 Chinese Yuan)

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Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill and Subhranshu Sahu

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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