The rout in industrial metals accelerated overnight as the deadline for global tariffs rapidly approaches. With no signs of any agreement, and an escalation of negative moves and unhelpful rhetoric, the world could be heading towards a damaging round of self-inflicted economic injuries.

Copper is off 13% from highs reached in June. It’s the second worst performer in its class, behind zinc. However all of the key base metals are down significantly over the last four weeks. These moves are in line with the strong selling in Shanghai and other China exposed stock markets, and ongoing pressure on commodity currencies.

The major concern over the next 48 hours is US equities. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq 100 indices are sitting near all-time highs. There are almost no signs that US investors have priced any risk potentially emanating from a trade war. If tariffs are introduced on Friday night it’s possible US stocks will plummet. A holiday interrupted trading week means there are just two sessions left for US investors to adjust portfolios.

Local futures markets are pointing to smaller opening gains for Asia Pacific stocks. The pressure on base metals markets may see these indicators turn red before the end of today’s session.

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