Copper Swings as Investors Weigh Escondida Strike, Fed Tapering

Copper swung between gains and losses as investors weighed a strike in the world’s biggest copper mine against the timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering of stimulus.

Futures for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange were little changed at $7,312.50 per metric ton at 10:51 a.m. in Shanghai, after gaining as much as 0.4 percent and losing as much as 0.1 percent. The metal touched $7,354.75 on Aug. 13, the highest since June 7.

Most of the workers at BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP)’s Escondida mine in Chile agreed to a one-day strike today, according to a labor union. A report today may show U.S. jobless claims fell in the week to Aug. 3, fueling speculation that has 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicting the Fed will pare bond purchases next month.

“All eyes are on the Fed’s meeting next month,” said Jia Zheng, an analyst at East Asia Futures Co. in Shanghai. “Still, the Escondida strike will tighten supply if it continues.”

The contract for delivery in December rose 0.2 percent to 52,260 yuan ($8,545) a ton on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. Stockpiles fell to the lowest since September in warehouses monitored by the SHFE last week.

Futures for delivery in December dropped 0.5 percent to $3.324 a pound on the Comex in New York. On the LME, aluminum was little changed, while zinc, nickel, tin and lead fell.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Alfred Cang in Shanghai at acang@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Miller at bmiller30@bloomberg.net

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