LONDON, Jun. 8 -- Copper, nickel and lead slumped on concern that the global economic recovery may be at risk, imperiling metals demand, as Europe battles a sovereign-debt crisis and the U.S. added fewer jobs than expected.
Copper, which entered a bear market last week, slumped to the lowest price in more than seven months on the London Metal Exchange, losing as much as 3.2 percent to $6,076.25 a metric ton. Nickel fell for a sixth day to as low as $17,500 a ton, while lead dropped as much as 4.5 percent to $1,535 a ton. In Shanghai, copper, aluminum and zinc all fell by the daily limit.
Equities and commodities including oil slumped and the euro dropped to a four-year low today after Hungarian leaders raised concerns that the nation may default, potentially spreading the debt crisis to Eastern Europe. U.S. employers hired fewer workers than expected last month, according to a June 4 report, triggering a slide in U.S. stocks.
"The Hungarian crisis as well as the U.S. jobs data were the latest double whammy," said Zeng Chao, an analyst at Everbright Futures Co. "Copper and zinc broke through their respective support levels, heralding further declines," said Zeng. Support levels are marked by clusters of buy orders.
Hungary roiled global markets last week as officials in Viktor Orban's week-old government compared the country to Greece, claiming the previous administration lied about public finances. Still, Mihaly Varga, Orban's chief of staff, downplayed the concerns over the weekend.
U.S. private-sector employers added 41,000 jobs to their payrolls in May, down from 218,000 in April and well below the 180,000 median forecast by 35 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The nation is the world's second-largest copper user.
Copper has fallen 24 percent from an April peak on signs that economic growth is slowing in the U.S., China and Europe. A bear market is defined as a decline of at least 20 percent. The contract traded at $6,100 a ton at 1:41 p.m. in Shanghai.
Aluminum lost as much as 2.7 percent to $1,830 a ton, the lowest price since Oct. 7, and zinc plunged as much as 3.9 percent to $1,577. Tin dropped as much as 1.6 percent to $15,750 a ton, extending June 4's 9.5 percent plunge.
In China, September-delivery copper fell to 50,100 yuan ($7,335) a ton, the lowest level since Oct. 29. Zinc declined to 13,900 yuan, the lowest price since July 30, while aluminum dropped to 14,080 yuan, the lowest price since July 29.
Zinc smelters in China, the world's largest producer, have idled as much as 8.8 percent of capacity as prices decline and the nation bids to cool the property market, curbing demand, according to Shanghai Metals Market.
About 400,000 to 500,000 tons of the country's 5.7 million tons of annual capacity have been suspended on output cuts and maintenance shutdowns, Monica Gao, an analyst at the researcher and data provider, said by phone from Shanghai.