Copper prices pulled back on Thursday after a blistering rally as some investors questioned whether the market moved too quickly when physical demand remains lacklustre.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.5% to $9,080 a tonne by 1030 GMT, following a rally that took prices up more than 10% in five sessions to the highest in 6-1/2 months.
China's pledges of more policy support for the economy, after it reopened borders and removed COVID-19 restrictions, have fuelled optimism for improving metals demand from the world's top consuming market.
"Prices have simply gone too fast and too far in the past several days due to this China reopening euphoria. I really struggle to see this translating into increasing metals demand," said analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer in Zurich.
Most Chinese manufacturers that use copper remained open during COVID restrictions, while new property support measures are limited and will only spur a moderate rise in construction activity, he added.
"The longer term prospects for copper are really positive, but that's a multi-year or maybe even a multi-decade story. It's not going to play out this year," Menke said.
The Yangshan copper premium fell to $32.50 a tonne, its lowest since April 2022, indicating weakening demand to import copper into China.
"Due to the impact of the off-season demand, downstream purchases are still relatively light," said Huatai Futures in a report.
There were also worries that China's Lunar New Year, when people traditionally visit relatives, could lead to another spike in COVID-19 cases.
Investors were also cautious ahead of core U.S. consumer price inflation data, which is expected to have slowed to an annual 5.7% in December, from 6% a month earlier.
LME aluminium declined 1.5% to $2,472 a tonne, nickel slumped 3.1% to $26,190, lead dropped 2.8% to $2,130, zinc eased 1.1% to $3,171, while tin rose 1.2% to $27,125.
(Reporting by Eric Onstad; Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi)