Copper futures posted the biggest gain in almost six weeks as imports climbed to a record in China, the world’s biggest user of industrial metals.
Imports of unwrought copper and products gained 13 percent in December to 508,942 metric tons, the seventh straight gain, China’s customs figures showed today. Equities rallied on speculation that officials may loosen monetary policy in an effort to spur economic growth.
“We saw some good monthly copper figures from China, and that set a strong tone,” William O’Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “There’s evidence that China is slowing, but the reality is the slowing doesn’t equate with a hard landing” for the economy, he said. “The key is economic optimism now.”
Copper futures for March delivery advanced 2.8 percent to settle at $3.513 a pound at 1:16 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Nov. 30.
Purchases by China still posted a drop last year, the first decline since 2008. Futures dropped 23 percent in 2011.
China’s policy makers probably will ease real-estate curbs as early as the middle of the year to prevent a collapse of the housing market, according to UBS AG. Construction accounts for a quarter of demand for copper, used in pipes and wiring, the Copper Development Association says.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose 3.3 percent to $7,740 a metric ton ($3.51 a pound).
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