Copper Removal Orders Almost Double Amid Malaysian Tax Concern

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(Mar 18): Orders to remove copper from warehouses approved by the biggest metals exchange climbed by the most in five years amid a lack of clarity over taxes in Malaysia.

Canceled warrants, as the bookings are known, jumped 90 percent to 98,950 metric tons, the highest since May, data from the London Metal Exchange showed Wednesday. The surge was mainly due to requests to get copper from Malaysia’s Johor, where orders increased by 44,225 tons, the most in almost two years.

Malaysia is the third-biggest repository of copper tracked by the LME. The bourse may stop accepting new deliveries of metal there if local authorities don’t confirm transactions and storage charges will be exempt from a new goods and service tax starting in April, it said this week. The government will work with the LME to address the issue, said Subromaniam Tholasy, a director at the Royal Malaysian Customs Department.

“Before there is really a clarification of what’s going on, it could be a knee jerk reaction,” Leon Westgate, an analyst at Standard Bank Plc in London, said by phone Wednesday. “If Malaysian warehouses are no longer good delivery points, somebody may actually take the metal out and put it in Singapore or somewhere nearby.”

Malaysia’s warehouses hold 19 percent of LME-registered copper, 84 percent of global tin inventories and half of all nickel, the latest data show.

Copper for delivery in three months dropped as much as 2.3 percent to a three-week low of $5,654 a ton on the LME Wednesday. Tin lost as much as 1.3 percent and nickel 1.1 percent.