A worker takes a sample of molten steel from an arc furnace in the smelting shop at the Oskol Elektrometallurgical Plant (OEMK) steel mill (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)  

Metals Cap a Week of Superlatives as Zinc Leaps to 10-Year High

(Bloomberg) -- The story of metal markets this week reads like a laundry list of achievements.

  • Zinc crashed through the $3,000 barrier for the first time in a decade.
  • Copper got back to $3 a pound in New York for the first time since 2014.
  • Aluminum reached three-year highs in London.

Driving the gains was a combination of data showing faster economic growth, a weaker dollar and shrinking supply. Chinese capacity curbs have boosted aluminum, while stockpiles of zinc tracked by the London Metal Exchange have slumped to the lowest level since 2008.

“Such spectacular rallies across the board,” said Malcolm Freeman, a director of West Malling, England-based brokerage Kingdom Futures.

Zinc rose 2 percent to settle at $3,124 a metric ton, extending a weekly gain to 7.9 percent. For the year, the metal used to galvanize steel is up 21 percent, rivaling aluminum as the top-performing LME metal for 2017. 

Aluminum stockpiles reached the lowest since September 2008 this week and the spot price was the highest relative to the three-month contract since January. Copper, little changed on Friday, touched $3 a pound earlier in the week for the first time since 2014.

Data this week showed China’s daily zinc production in July contracted to the lowest level in three years. Pit suspensions by companies including Glencore Plc and environmental checks in China are constraining supply just as global demand recovers.

Yet analysts are questioning if there’s enough demand to sustain prices at current levels.

China home prices rose in fewer cities in July, adding to signs the property market is cooling. Prices fell in nine cities and were unchanged in five, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.

“Chinese property showed slowing growth so there is some likelihood for a modest pullback here since the rally has been hard and fast,” said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals trading at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

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