Copper fell the most in two weeks after export orders slid for the first time in two years in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the metal.
A gauge of orders from overseas in the Purchasing Managers’ Index for August dropped to the lowest level March 2009, data from the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed today. Manufacturing slumped in Europe and Asia, adding to signs of slowing global growth.
Lower export orders are “almost certainly a reflection of the current soft patch in the global economy,” Nic Brown, the London-based head of commodities research at Natixis Commodity Markets Ltd., said in a telephone interview today.
Copper futures for December delivery declined 4.4 cents, or 1 percent, to close at $4.1605 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest loss for a most-active contract since Aug. 18.
The metal has dropped 6.4 percent this year as China moved to curb inflation with higher interest rates and as debt woes escalated in Europe and the U.S., the second-largest user.
Euro-area manufacturing contracted in August more than initially estimated while Chinese manufacturing growth stayed near a 29-month low, separate reports showed. Similar gauges for Sweden, the U.K., South Korea and Taiwan all indicated contraction.
“Today’s batch of numbers, particularly out of Asia and Europe, show that the global economy is still mired in a soft patch, hardly a scenario for robust metal-price appreciation over the short term,” Edward Meir, a senior analyst at MF Global Holdings Ltd. in Darien, Connecticut, said in a report.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for three-month delivery fell $130, or 1.4 percent, to $9,145 a metric ton ($4.15 a pound).
Aluminum, lead, nickel, zinc and tin also dropped in London.