SINGAPORE, May 22 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Friday after top consumer China did not set an annual growth target for the first time as the coronavirus pandemic pummels its economy, while mounting Sino-U.S. tensions also hit prices of the red metal.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) fell 1.3% at $5,318 a tonne at 0504 GMT, while the most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) declined 1.5% to 43,520 yuan ($6,112.19) a tonne.
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) target was omitted from Premier Li Keqiang’s work report for the first time since the government began publishing such goals in 1990.
Investor sentiment was also pressured after Beijing’s plan to impose a new national security legislation on Hong Kong drew a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump.
However, both LME and ShFE copper contracts are set for a weekly gain as several economies reopened from lockdowns to contain the pandemic, and on hopes of fresh stimulus from China.
“Looks like it’ll be massive easing to stimulate domestic economy. These are real purchases. Those that follow the real demand will buy the dip,” said a metals trader in Singapore.
“Just be patient for the selling to subside. They’ll run out of bullets.”
* CHINALCO: Chinese state-owned firm Chinalco’s general manager called on China to rein in “blind expansion” of copper smelting capacity.
* CONSTANCIA: Canadian miner Hudbay Minerals Inc expects a delay of up to four months before it can start mining an extension at its Constancia copper mine in Peru.
* OTHER PRICES: LME nickel dropped 4.1% to $12,255 a tonne, zinc fell 0.9% to $1,965, while ShFE aluminium declined 0.2% to 12,815 yuan a tonne and ShFE nickel decreased 3.5% to 100,830 yuan a tonne.
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$1 = 7.1202 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Devika Syamnath