Earnings at Chinese industrial companies advanced for a fourth month in December, increasing 17 percent from a year earlier, the country’s statistics bureau said today. Figures last week showed fourth-quarter gross domestic product expanded more than economists expected. A U.S. government report today showed stronger-than-expected durable goods orders in December.
“We’re seeing more and more good news out of China, and that will translate into higher copper prices,” Bill O’Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “The durable-goods number was further indication of improvement.”
Copper futures for delivery in March added less than 0.1 percent to $3.654 a pound at 10:39 a.m. on the Comex in New York.
Prices pared earlier gains of as much as 0.7 percent after an unexpected drop in a U.S. housing-sales gauge. The index of contracts for the purchase of previously owned homes fell in December for the first time since August, data from the National Association of Realtors showed. Last week, copper lost 0.7 percent amid concern that supplies may exceed demand this year.
Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 4.6 percent in the U.S., exceeding the highest forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, after a 0.7 percent gain in November, the government report today showed. The nation is the world’s second-largest copper consumer.
Copper also climbed after Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) said prices are poised to advance, after reporting fourth-quarter profit that exceeded estimates by analysts. The metal will average $3.75 a pound this year, according to Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment. Increased economic growth will boost demand for most metals, Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar said in its earnings statement on its website today.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose 0.2 percent to $8,042.75 a metric ton ($3.65 a pound).
Zinc, lead and nickel also advanced in London. Tin and aluminum fell.
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