Copper strikes 8 week top after Chile quake

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    * Codelco says no damage to personnel, infrastructure

    * Anglo American, Antofagasta say no impact from quake

    * Coming Up: U.S. Housing starts, Building permits Aug at 1230 GMT

    London copper popped to its highest in nearly two months on Thursday after a large earthquake that struck Chile triggered concerns over supply disruptions, before tailing back on persistent worries over China's economy.

    A magnitude 8.3 earthquake hit off the coast of Chile, shaking buildings in the capital city of Santiago and generating a tsunami warning for Chile and Peru, the world's top two suppliers of copper.

    State-owned miner Codelco said it was evacuating workers at one of its divisions, while Antofagasta suspended some opeations. But they said there were no initial reports of damage, while Anglo American said operations were continuing as normal.

    "It's probably going to wash out pretty quickly given there's no real production impact (so far)," said analyst Matt Fusarelli at AME Group in Sydney.

    London Metal Exchange copper rose 1.1 percent to hit its highest level since July 22 at US$5,440.50 a tonne, before trimming gains to be up 0.2 percent at US$5,392 by 0217 GMT.

    Shares of miners such as BHP Billiton also spiked higher alongside copper prices. BHP, the majority owner and operator of the world's biggest copper mine, Escondida, said its operations in Chile had not been affected.

    Codelco said it was evacuating its workers at its Ventanas division. It tweeted that there was no damage to personnel or infrastructure.

    Antofagasta said its Los Pelambres copper operations were suspended but there was no damage reported.

    Waves of up to 4.5 meters (15 feet) pounded Chile's coastal city of Coquimbo while tsunami waves of up to three metres (10 feet) were possible along the coast of French Polynesia, officials said.

    Dragging on metals, China stocks opened lower, reflecting still sour sentiment towards China's growth prospects.

    Shanghai Futures Exchange copper climbed by nearly two percent before also cutting gains to 0.9 percent at 40,990 yuan (US$6,438) a tonne. It briefly snapped resistance at the 100-day moving average of 41,163, but support did not hold.

    As China's slowdown hits demand for metals in traditional sectors such as housing and heavy industry, copper is being offered a lifeline: massive plans to expand solar and wind power in the world's second-biggest economy.

    Traders were also cutting risk ahead of the Federal Reserve rate decision later in the session which has deeply divided Wall Street's top economists.

    In other metals, LME nickel zinc and lead all fell around half a percent.

    The global nickel market surplus rose to 10,300 tonnes in July from a revised surplus of 7,800 tonnes the previous month, the International Nickel Study Group said.

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