SHANGHAI, May 14 -- Copper, aluminum and zinc tumbled on concern that demand may weaken as economic growth cools in China, the world's largest metals consumer, and European nations slash budgets to curb deficits.
Three-month delivery copper slumped as much as 1.3 percent to $7,065 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, and traded at $7,091 at 2:40 p.m. in Shanghai. The metal gained 2.1 percent this week after closing at $6,945 a ton May 7, the lowest finish since Feb. 15. Aluminum fell 0.5 percent to $2,160 per ton.
European governments are planning austerity measures after policy makers and the International Monetary Fund pledged almost $1 trillion to rescue indebted nations. The dollar has climbed 0.9 percent this week against six major counterparts.
"Investors are concerned that the austerity measures will impact global economic growth," Tan Wentao, an analyst at HNA Topwin Futures Co., said from Shanghai.
Reports this week showed property prices in China advanced at a record pace in April, and consumer prices climbed at the fastest rate in 18 months, fueling concern the government will tighten lending to slow growth.
Portugal has imposed temporary taxes and cut the wages of top government officials to narrow its budget deficit. Spain has unveiled the biggest round of budget cuts in 30 years.
Aluminum for August delivery in Shanghai was little changed at 15,845 yuan ($2,321) a ton. Copper was also little changed.
The lightweight metal may climb as China, the world's largest producer, ends discounted power rates to high-usage companies, said the state-owned researcher Beijing Antaike Information Development Co.
China stopped selling electricity at discounts to high- consumption companies with immediate effect, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement yesterday, and the government will impose financial penalties on companies whose power consumption exceeds state-set limits. Energy represents as much as half the cost of making the metal used in cars, cans and airplanes.
"However, there will be a limit as to how high prices will go because domestic demand isn't too good and stockpiles are high," Antaike's analyst Li Yang said from Beijing today.
Inventories of aluminum in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange have jumped 46 percent this year as Chinese smelters ramped up production on expectations that demand will improve as the global economy recovers.
Zinc slumped 1.3 percent to $2,132 a ton and lead fell 0.7 percent to $2,050 a ton. Nickel slipped 0.7 percent to $22,620 a ton and tin declined by 0.6 percent to $17,700 a ton.