LONDON - Copper prices eased on Monday as the dollar rose after higher oil prices stoked fears about inflation and higher interest rates in the United States and as manufacturing activity in top consumer China stalled.
Copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.3% at $8,968 a tonne in official rings. Over the last couple of weeks prices of industrial metals have been supported by an idea that U.S. Federal Reserve rate hikes would not be as aggressive as previously anticipated.
"There's been some selling on the back of the higher dollar and industrial activity data from China," a metal trader said.
The Caixin/S&P Global manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 50.0 in March, amid slowing production and weaker global demand.
Oil prices surged after a surprise announcement by OPEC+ to cut more production jolted markets and fuelled fears of stronger price pressures, which has raised the chances of higher U.S. rates in May.
This has boosted the U.S. currency, which when it rises makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies, which would undermine demand and prices.
However, support for copper comes from falling stocks in LME registered warehouses, which at 63,850 tonnes have dropped more than 15% over the past two weeks .
Cancelled warrants at around 29% of the total suggest another 18,500 tonnes of copper is due to leave the LME system.
Concern about copper supplies on the LME system can be seen in the premium for the cash over the three-month .
Elsewhere, aluminium prices hit a one-month high of $2,434 a tonne due to worries that higher oil prices could translate into higher prices of electricity, a key component of the aluminium production process.
Traders say aluminium's price moves could be limited on the upside at around $2,435 where the 100-day moving average currently sits, while support is at the 200-day moving average around $2,390.
Three-month aluminium was last up 0.7% at $2,429 a tonne.
In other metals, zinc slipped 0.6% to $2,906 per tonne, lead gained 0.8% to $2,124, tin shed 0.2% to $25,900 and nickel was little changed at $23,840.
(Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jason Neely)