Mining stocks retreated across the board on Thursday after the gold price fell sharply and copper dropped below $10,000 for the first time in almost a month.
US gold futures fell by more than $40 an ounce, or 2% from Wednesday’s settlement, hitting a low of $1,866.70 on the Comex market in New York while copper was trading down more than 3% in early afternoon trade, gapping to $4.429 a pound ($9,765 per tonne). Selling was heavy for both metals with contracts equivalent to 26 million troy ounces and over 3 billion pounds changing hands.
Iron ore prices held up well, consolidating above the $200 a tonne mark with the price of Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China assessed at $210.99 on Thursday, down from a record high of $237 a tonne reached mid-May.
Losses were heaviest among gold stocks, wiping out most of the sector’s strong gains in May with AngloGold Ashanti, Yamana, Gold Fields all dropping more close to 5% in New York. Top producers Newmont and Barrick were down 2.2% and 3.8% respectively after regaining some lost ground in afternoon trade.
Copper stocks also came in for a beating with Freeport down 3.5%, Southern Copper giving up 3.4% and First Quantum sliding 4.3%.
Among the major diversified, Anglo American was hardest hit, retreating more than 3%, but iron ore’s big three: Rio Tinto, Vale and BHP managed to limit losses to less than 2% by mid-afternoon. Glencore lost 2.7% of its value on Thursday but year to date it is the best performer of the diversified majors with a 45% advance.
Units of iron ore pure play Fortescue trading in the US escaped the carnage on Thursday, but year to date the counter is one of only a handful of stocks showing a decline.