Copper Falls Most in Two Weeks on Signs China Demand May Ease

Copper fell the most in two weeks on concern that demand will slow after China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, cut its economic-growth target.

The country’s 8 percent annual goal in place since 2005 was lowered to 7.5 percent, Premier Wen Jiabao said today. Copper also dropped on forecasts that automobile sales in China in the two months ended Feb. 29 headed for the biggest decline in seven years after gasoline costs climbed to a record.

China “is not growing quite as fast as it was, and that’s taking some of the steam out of the market,” William O’ Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “People are concerned about the level of Chinese inventories.”

Copper futures for May delivery slid 1.1 percent to settle at $3.8595 a pound at 1:14 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest loss since Feb. 17. The metal has gained 12 percent this year.

Stockpiles monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange have climbed to the highest since at least January 2003, weekly data showed.

Deliveries of passenger autos in China, including sport-utility vehicles and light-goods vans, fell 3 percent in the first two months of 2012 from a year earlier, based on the median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That would be the biggest drop since 2005, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. A luxury automobile may use as much as 28 kilograms (62 pounds) of the metal, according to the Copper Development Association.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.9 percent to $8,505 a metric ton ($3.86 a pound).

Nickel, zinc, lead, aluminum and tin also slid in London.

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