Why is the BHP share price tumbling on Wednesday?

ASX 200 investors are bidding down the BHP share price today. But why?

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The BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) share price is taking a tumble today.

Shares in the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) mining giant closed down 1.2% yesterday at $44.28. At the time of writing on Wednesday morning, shares are swapping hands for $43.71 apiece, down 1.3%.

For some context the ASX 200 is up 0.2% at this same time.

It's not just the BHP share price underperforming today.

Shares in rival ASX 200 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX: FMG) are down 0.8%, while the Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) share price is down 1.3%.

Here's what's happening.

What's pressuring the BHP share price?

BHP's share price moves on the ASX today are following a similar sell-down in the miner's international listings.

Overnight, BHP shares closed down 2.2% in the United States, where the company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Most of the selling pressure looks to be coming from a sizeable retrace in metals prices.

The copper price dropped another 2.0% overnight to US$9,945 per tonne. While that's still near historic highs, the copper price has now retraced by almost 9% since 20 May.

Copper counts as BHP's second biggest revenue earner after iron ore.

Speaking of, the iron ore price tumbled 2.1% overnight to US$107.65 per tonne.

On 7 May the critical steel making metal was fetching just under US$120 per tonne, having fallen from US$143 per tonne in early January.

What's happening with the iron ore price?

The iron ore price gained for most of April and into early May amid hopes that China's renewed stimulus efforts would boost the nation's floundering property sector, providing some helpful tailwinds for the BHP share price.

(Although BHP's bid to acquire global miner Anglo American (LSE: AAL) weighed on shares late in April.)

But those hopes appear to be fading in recent weeks, as analysts are increasingly sceptical that the measures will be enough to revamp China's steel-hungry property markets.

According to Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at ANZ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: ANZ) (quoted by The Australian Financial Review):

Recent property support measures in China failed to ignite much hope of stronger demand. Further [iron ore] price gains will likely be capped by persistent concerns over the state of the Chinese property market.

Robert Rennie, head of commodity and carbon strategy at Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC), also believes iron ore prices are unlikely to top US$120 per tonne again anytime soon, noting that iron ore inventories are rising in China at a time they'd usually be falling.

"It feels as if it's just a matter of time before we start to see a more meaningful correction below $US110 and eventually $US100, brought on by rising supply out of Africa," Rennie said.

With today's intraday moves factored in, the BHP share price is down 13% in 2024.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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