Copper Slips With Asian Stocks on China; Ringgit Weakens

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gsr-251Copper futures slid with Asian stocks and emerging-market currencies as weaker-than-estimated Chinese data stoked concern over the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy. U.S. index futures dropped as crude oil and corn fell while gold led a retreat in precious metals.

Copper futures on the Comex sank 2 percent by 9:43 a.m. in Tokyo to $3.0230 a pound, after touching the lowest level since June. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.5 percent as stock gauges from Japan to Australia slipped. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures lost 0.2 percent after the index rose 1 percent last week. Malaysia’s ringgit snapped a four-day gain and the Korean won weakened 0.4 percent. Brent crude dropped 0.3 percent and corn slid more than 1 percent. Gold fell 0.2 percent.

Data from China and Japan is overshadowing last week’s better-than-estimated U.S. payrolls figures. China said March 8 that exports slid the most since 2009 last month and inflation eased to a 13-month low, while Japan revised fourth-quarter growth down today. Searchers continue to look for traces of a Malaysian Airline System Bhd. plane amid concern over passengers traveling with stolen passports. In Crimea, Russian troops detained Ukrainian border guards amid the ongoing standoff.

gsr-236“China’s weaker-than-expected export number will heighten market sensitivity,” Ric Spooner, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, wrote in an e-mail to clients today. “The situation in Ukraineis also a background factor that’s likely to see some trader caution at the moment. Markets are still respectful of the fact that the situation remains very unstable.”

Warning Shots

Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended Crimea’s local government, which is holding a referendum March 16 to leave Ukraine and join Russia. The border guards were held a day after gunmen fired warning shots international observers and barred them from the disputed region. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said at the weekend that he will travel to Washington March 12.

Copper futures lost as much as 2.8 percent to $2.9955 a pound, the lowest intraday level since June 25. Futures tumbled 4.2 percent March 7, the most since December 2011.

“It’s a bit of panic selling on concern that China’s demand is slowing,” said Kazuhiko Saito, a Tokyo-based analyst at commodities broker Fujitomi Co.

The Australian dollar was little changed at 90.57 U.S. cents after earlier weakening as much as 0.4 percent. China is the world’s biggest consumer of copper and is Australia’s No. 1 trading partner.

Asian Indexes

The S&P/ASX 200 Index in Sydney fell 0.8 percent after closing March 7 at the highest level since June 2008. Japan’s Topix Index dropped 0.6 percent, halting a four-day climb, while the Kospi Index in Seoul declined 0.7 percent.

Overseas shipments from China dropped 18.1 percent in February from a year earlier, after analysts polled by Bloomberg predicted a 7.5 percent increase. Producer prices slid 2 percent, the most since July, while the inflation rate was 2 percent for February, reports at the weekend showed. The National People’s Congress, an annual meeting of China’s lawmakers, continues this week. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuanwill speak at the meeting tomorrow.

Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co., a solar-cell maker, said March 7 it won’t be able to make an interest payment due that day in full, providing the first default in China’s onshore bond market. Chaori’s experience may be a sign the government is backing off from its practice of bailing out companies with bad debt.

Window Fragment

The won weakened for the first time in four days, declining to 1,064.60 per dollar as the Thai baht dropped 0.1 percent to 32.335 a dollar. The ringgit retreated 0.5 percent to 3.2726 a dollar after climbing 0.6 percent last week in a fifth week of gains.

Vietnamese searchers said they found a suspected window fragment from the Malaysian Airline Boeing 777-200 that went missing of the country’s coast two days ago en route to Beijing. Interpol said in a statement that at least two passports recorded in its database were used by passengers on the flight after being reported stolen in Thailand.

Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries were little changed at 2.78 percent today after rising a fourth day March 7, advancing five basis points. Economists projected U.S. payrolls would rise 149,000 last month, with the bigger-than-expected 175,000-worker increase indicating the economy is starting to bounce back from frigid winter weather.

Taper Outlook

“The fact employment rebounded in February despite the harsh weather pretty much guarantees the Fed will continue with its steady process of tapering by $10 billion at its next meeting,” Kymberly Martin, a markets strategist in Wellington at Bank of New Zealand Ltd., wrote in an e-mail to clients today, referring to the Federal Reserve and its bond-buying program.

The yen, viewed as a safe haven, was the biggest decliner among 16 major peers tracked by Bloomberg last week, losing 1.4 percent as concern abated that Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region will escalate into a broader conflict. The currency was little changed today at 103.20 per dollar.

Japanese gross domestic product rose an annualized 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, less than a preliminary estimate of 1 percent and the 0.9 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The Bank of Japan reports on monetary policy tomorrow, with Governor Haruhiko Kuroda to address reporters.

Metals, Grains

Brent slipped to $108.67 a barrel today while West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.2 percent to $102.41 after jumping 1 percent March 7 after the U.S. payrolls data.

The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent, with economists predicting it would hold at 6.6 percent. The Labor Department’s survey of households showed an increase in people entering the workforce.

Palladium dropped 0.3 percent to $779.60 an ounce, while silver lost 0.4 percent to $20.82 an ounce.

Gold declined to $1,336.45 an ounce following last week’s 1 percent climb, the precious metal’s fifth straight weekly advance and longest rally since January. Bets on gains in gold rose to the highest level since December 2012, with bullish wagers climbing for a fourth week as gold cements its best annual start in six years. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says the metal’s rally will soon fizzle.

Corn futures due in May lost 1.3 percent in a second trading day of declines while contracts on wheat and soybeans declined at least 0.4 percent.