Metal Stocks Down in Early Trade

Hindustan Zinc was down 5% to Rs 657.90, Sterlite Industries was down 5.5% to Rs 491 and Hindalco had shed 2.3% to Rs 178.80, in response to the fall in metal prices arising from fund-liquidation. Reports indicate that a hedge fund had suffered heavy losses.

Benchmark copper for delivery in three months closed at $5,330, down 4.8% from Thursday’s close of $5,600. In New York, copper futures closed at their cheapest levels in ten months. Rising LME copper stocks also dampened sentiment, with stocks up 127% over the last year. Copper is down more than 12% since the start of the year and around $3,000 below the peak hit in May 2006.

Zinc ended down at $3,085 versus $3,390 after falling 11.8% at one point, to $2,990 on Friday. Zinc prices have tumbled by more than 25% since the start of the year on worries about a looming surplus, China’s reporting net exports of zinc in 2006 and a slowing demand in Europe and the United States.

Aluminum fell a relatively modest 1.2%, to $2,720, on Friday.

Copper and zinc makers reported a strong financial performance in the December 2006 quarter on the back of firm prices of these metals on a year-on-year basis. Hindustan Zinc’s net profit rose 305.8% in the Dec-06 quarter to Rs 1335 crore, on 171.3% growth in net sales to Rs 2480 crore.

Hindalco’s net profit rose 91.5% in the Dec 2006 quarter to Rs 643.90 crore on 62.1% growth in net sales to Rs 4656.20 crore.