Copper fell, capping the biggest weekly decline since mid-December, on concern that demand may falter amid slowing economic growth in China, the world’s top consumer. China’s economy expanded 8.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, government data showed today. That was the lowest in almost three years and trailed the 8.4 percent median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Copper also declined after a private report showed that U.S. consumer confidence slipped in April.
“China’s economy was weaker than expected, and the U.S. consumer sentiment figures only add to the concerns that copper demand may slow,” Dennis Cajigas, a senior market strategist at Zaner Group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. Copper futures for May delivery dropped 2.5 percent to settle at $3.627 a pound at 1:27 p.m. on the Comex in New York. This week, the metal dropped 4.4 percent, the most since Dec. 16. Orders (NLFCA) to withdraw copper from warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell for the ninth straight session, the longest slide since November. Inventories have climbed 3.2 percent this month after plunging 31 percent in the first quarter.
“The reversal of the decline in LME inventories has added to the near-term downside pressure,”Barclays Capital in London said in a report yesterday. On the LME, copper for delivery in three months fell 2.8 percent to $7,990 a metric ton ($3.62 a pound). Aluminum, zinc, lead, nickel and tin also dropped in London.