Copper fell for the first time in four sessions as imports by China, the world’s largest consumer, slid to a one-year low.
Refined-copper imports declined 30 percent in October to 169,897 metric tons from a month earlier, General Administration of Customs data showed. In the previous two weeks, copper prices dropped 2.7 percent on concern that demand may ebb as China moves to damp inflation.
The decline in Chinese imports “is definitely weighing on the market,” said Michael K. Smith, the president of T&K Futures & Options in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Speculation that China will increase borrowing costs caused copper to “sell off a little bit,” he said.
Copper futures for March delivery dropped 8.05 cents, or 2.1 percent, to close at $3.762 a pound at 1:22 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price gained 3 percent in the previous three sessions.
This year, the metal has climbed 12 percent, while inventories monitored by exchanges in London, New York and Shanghai have declined 20 percent.
Prices also fell today as some workers at Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc’s Collahuasi venture in Chile accepted a wage offer to end a strike. The site is the world’s fourth-biggest copper mine. Wage negotiations may resume as early as today, according to a union leader.
“Reports of a partial acceptance of the wage proposal at the Collahuasi mine in Chile will begin to test the resolve of the bulls,” Alex Heath, the head of industrial-metals trading at Royal Bank of Canada Europe Ltd. in London, said in a report.
Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators decreased their net-long position by 14 percent in New York copper futures in the week ended Nov. 16, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Nov. 19. Net-long positions, or bets on higher prices, fell by 4,129 contracts from a week earlier.
Prices may fall to $3.60 in two weeks before rebounding, Smith of T&K Futures said. “There are different worries out there, but the basic fundamental is growth,” he said.
Copper for delivery in three months declined $114, or 1.4 percent, to $8,290 a metric ton ($3.76 a pound) on the London Metal Exchange. Nickel, zinc, lead and tin also dropped. Aluminum gained.