March 19, 2020 / 5:22 AM / 11 days ago

METALS-Copper plunges for 4th day on LME, Shanghai limit down as selloff resumes

    * Base metals see heavy losses on another day of virus-hit
trade
    * LME tin at decade-low; copper, aluminium at lowest since
2016
    * ShFE copper, aluminium, zinc and tin all hit limit down
    * Selloff reflects 'mass panic,' not fundamentals - analyst

 (Adds Shanghai closing prices, updates London prices)
    By Tom Daly
    BEIJING, March 19 (Reuters) - Copper crashed nearly 8% to a
more than four-year low under $4,400 a tonne in London and hit
the 9% limit down in Shanghai on Thursday, as investors cashed
out base metals positions across the board on panic over the
coronavirus. 
    London Metal Exchange three-month copper, set to clock its
fourth straight day of heavy losses, has lost around 16% so far
this week and was on course for its worst week since October
2008, when the global financial crisis was unfolding.
    Guy Wolf, global head of market analytics at Marex Spectron,
described the situation as "mass panic," with prices continuing
to fall even as miners restrict supply. 
    "This is not about fundamentals," Wolf said. "Clearly what
we are seeing here is a mass unwind of leverage cross the entire
financial system."
    "In this kind of environment the prices are where they are
because someone is selling it and they have to sell it - they
are not selling it out of choice."
        
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * COPPER: Three-month copper on the LME fell as much
as 7.9% to $4,371 a tonne, the lowest since January 2016 before
recovering to $4,567 a tonne as of 0723 GMT. The contract
slumped as much as 9% on Wednesday in one of its biggest
intra-day drops on record.  
    * SHFE: The front-month April copper contract on the
Shanghai Futures Exchange hit the 9% limit down shortly
after the start of trading and closed on 37,520 yuan ($5,312.79)
a tonne, its lowest since October 2016.
    Shanghai's most active tin, front-month aluminium
 and zinc contracts also hit limit downs and 2016
troughs. Front-month lead closed down 4% and nickel
 ended down 2.8% after tumbling 7.4% at one point.
    * INVENTORIES: Copper stocks MCUSTX-TOTAL in LME-approved
warehouses have climbed nearly 30% over the past few days to
233,150 tonnes.
    * CODELCO: The Chilean copper miner is reducing operations
to comply with a national state of catastrophe.
    * PERU: MMG Ltd said its Las Bambas copper mine in
Peru has temporarily reduced operations and transport of
concentrates will be significantly reduced.
    * OTHER METALS: The selloff saw LME aluminium and
zinc fall up to 4.3% and 4.5%, respectively, to their
lowest since 2016, while tin shed 4.2% to $13,000 a
tonne, its lowest since July 2009. Lead lost as much as
4.6% and nickel slipped as much as 2.7% to its lowest
since January 2019 before clawing back ground to trade up 0.2%. 
    
    PRICES    
 BASE METALS PRICES                       0724 GMT
 Three month LME copper                     4566.5
 Three month LME aluminium                    1598
 Three month LME zinc                       1801.5
 Three month LME lead                       1632.5
 Three month LME nickel                      11410
 Three month LME tin                         13120
 
    
($1 = 7.0622 yuan)

    
 (Reporting by Tom Daly; additional reporting by Gavin Maguire
in Singapore; Editing by Richard Pullin, Aditya Soni and Anil
D'Silva)
  
 
 
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