–Comex Sept. copper up 3.60c at $3.3065/lb
–Stronger Chinese industrial activity boost hopes of more copper demand
–Fears over Chinese slowdown wane as economic data brightens
NEW YORK–Copper futures settle up 1.1% as stronger Chinese economic data ameliorate fears about weaker demand from the world’s top consumer of the industrial metal.
The most actively traded contract, for September delivery, settled 3.60 cents, or 1.1%, higher at $3.3065 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. This was the highest settlement price since June 6, when copper prices settled $3.3190 a pound.
Copper prices rallied 4.2% this week, their largest weekly gain since Sept. 2012, amid a string of stronger-than-expected Chinese economic data.
On Friday, China reported that its industrial output rose 9.7% in July from a year earlier, picking up pace from the 8.9% growth seen in June. The reading also beat forecasts calling for 9% growth.
A day earlier, copper prices roared higher after trade data showed China’s July copper imports rose 12% from a year earlier to 410,680 tons, the most since May 2012.
Copper traders closely follow China’s economic data, as the country accounts for about 40% of global copper demand.
“The China news helped copper a lot,” said Frank Lesh, a broker and futures analyst with FuturePath Trading LLC.
In recent months, investors have been worried that slower factory activity and economic growth would lead to less demand for the industrial metal. Copper is widely used in everyday goods like phones, cars and household plumbing, and is sensitive to shifts in the pace of economic expansion.
But the recent data have helped soothe these worries, and buoyed copper prices as a result, Mr. Lesh said.
“The thought that they’ve bottomed out and their economy is turning up here has a lot to do with this,” Mr. Lesh said.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading): Aug $3.3085; up 3.80 cents; Range $3.2640-$3.3110 Sep $3.3065; up 3.60 cents; Range $3.2420-$3.3175