BEIJING, Jan. 15 -- China's measures to rein in lending might curb price gains in copper and aluminium on concern the move foreshadows higher interest rates that will limit demand in the world's largest metals consumer, four analysts said yesterday.
"The government's decision to pull back liquidity will damp commodities across the board," Fei Zhonghai, GM at CGOG Futures, said in Beijing yesterday. China's move might extend a decline in copper, Chen Yonglin, an analyst at Citic Newedge Futures, said.
The People's Bank of China on Tuesday raised the proportion of deposits that banks must set aside as reserves by 50 basis points starting on Sunday.
Economists had not expected the move until at least April, according to the median of 11 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey.
Policy makers may follow by raising their benchmark rate in the next few months, rather than waiting until the second half as most economists in the survey projected.
"The bull trend in the past year was based on two things: an expectation of an improving macroeconomy, and ample liquidity for some time," CGOG Futures' Fei said.
Copper jumped 140% last year and aluminium soared 45% as China's 586bn stimulus spending and record lending spurred imports. The London Metal Exchange index of six industrial metals from copper to tin climbed 98%.
China's increase in the reserve ratio "may deepen a downward correction in copper, to below 7000 in the first quarter", said Chen from CITIC Newedge from Shanghai.
The reserve-ratio move will almost certainly hurt investment demand, Chen said. Copper for three-month delivery fell 1,3% to 7360/ ton in Singapore.
Inflation risks are rising in China as the economy picks up speed. Exports last month advanced for the first time in 14 months , trade data showed on Sunday . A government report this month is forecast to show gross domestic product increased 10,5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, the most since the three months to March 2008, a Bloomberg survey showed.
Economic growth may sustain demand for metals in China, the world's third-largest economy. China increased imports of copper and its products 63% last year to 4,29- million tons and boosted inbound shipments of aluminium and its products 164% to 2,32-million tons, according to customs figures.