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Freeport McMoRan Shares Slide as Copper Prices Slump to 7-Week Lows

A crackdown on commodity speculation from China, as well as slumping imports, has copper trading at a seven-week low.

Freeport-McMoRan  (FCX) - Get Report shares slumped lower Tuesday as copper prices sunk to the lowest levels in nearly two months 

Copper prices, which reached all-time highs last month amid a surge in global commodity prices and speedy accelerations in manufacturing and industrial output in China, have been falling notably over the past two weeks amid concerns over a crackdown on speculators from Beijing.

A decade-high surge in producer price inflation in China, the world's biggest importer, was also followed by data showing back-to-back declines in monthly imports, adding further downward pressure to copper, which traded a seven-week low of $9,580 per ton Tuesday on the London Metals Exchange. 

Traders are also noting that Senate lawmakers a pushing a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill - spread out over eight years - that is much lower than President Joe Biden's initial $2.3 trillion target. 

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 CEO Richard Adkerson told investors in April that a combination of rising demand, scarcity of new supplies point to large impending structural deficits, supporting much higher copper prices than previously anticipated", adding that the miner is "notably well positioned to benefit from these fundamentals, a leading responsible large-scale producer of copper."

Freeport-McMoRan nudged its full-year cooper production targets higher last month, to 3.8 billion tons this year and 4.4 billion in 2022.

"It is becoming increasingly more challenging and costly for our industry to develop supplies to meet the dramatically increasing demand for copper," Adkerson said. "And our team literally loves where our Freeport is situated in this environment."

Freeport-McMoRan shares were marked 4.8% lower in early trading Tuesday to change hands at $37.50 each, a move that would still leave the stock with a year-to-date gain of around 48%.