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Copper Slips as Italy Vote Stokes Concern EU Debt Crisis Worsens

Copper fell for a third straight day as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi failed to secure a majority in a parliamentary ballot, fueling concern that Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis will worsen.

Berlusconi won 308 votes in the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies. Yields on 10-year bonds issued by Italy, which has the world’s fourth-largest debt, are near the 7 percent level that drove Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek international bailouts. Copper prices have plunged 21 percent this year as the expanding crisis dimmed prospects for economic growth.

“The next few weeks, everything is determined by the politics of Italy,” Stephen Briggs, an analyst at BNP Paribas SA in London, said by telephone before the vote. Industrial metals are “very much dependent on the ebbs and flows of sentiment toward the euro crisis,” he said.

Copper futures for December delivery slipped 0.1 percent to settle at $3.533 a pound at 1:13 p.m. on the Comex in New York, capping a 1.5 percent slide since Nov. 3. On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.3 percent to $7,800 a metric ton ($3.54 a pound).

“Until there is some degree of clarity regarding Europe, metal prices will continue to be reactive and at times very volatile,” Standard Bank Plc analyst Leon Westgate said in a report today.

Berlusconi offered to resign as soon as Parliament approves austerity measures in a vote next week, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said tonight in an e-mailed statement after meeting Berlusconi in Rome.

Italy’s 1.9 trillion-euro ($2.6 trillion) debt amounts to about 120 percent of economic output, the second-biggest burden in the euro region after Greece.

Tin, lead, zinc and aluminum rose in London. Nickel fell.

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