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Copper Gains as Recent Drop Seen Excessive Amid Lower Stockpiles

Copper climbed, trimming a weekly loss, after a fall yesterday to the lowest level in more than two weeks was seen as excessive as global stockpiles declined to the lowest level in more than three years.

Three-month copper rose as much as 1.1 percent to $8,383.75 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange and traded at $8,380.50 by 4 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal has dropped 1.5 percent this week and touched $8,262.50 yesterday, the lowest level since March 7, after reports showed manufacturing shrank in Europe and China, the world’s largest copper user.

“Copper sentiment is a little poor at present, as markets and traders have over-reacted to Chinese economic news this week,” said Gavin Wendt, founder and senior resource analyst at Mine Life Pty in Sydney. “There are serious supply side issues and demand remains robust, despite the pessimism in speculative circles.”

Copper inventories monitored by the LME fell 1.1 percent to 255,450 tons, the lowest level since November 2008, exchange figures show. The metal in London has risen 10 percent this year.

The number of Americans saying the U.S. economy is getting better rose in March to the highest level since 2004 as a decline in claims for unemployment benefits offered more evidence of a labor-market recovery. Thirty-four percent of respondents to Bloomberg’s monthly consumer expectations survey said the economy was improving. Figures from the Labor Department showed jobless claims decreased by 5,000 to 348,000 in the week ended March 17, the fewest since February 2008.

China Manufacturing

The LME index of the six industrial metals fell 2 percent yesterday, the most since March 6, after a preliminary Chinese purchasing managers’ index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics dropped to 48.1 from a final 49.6 in February. Euro-region manufacturing and services output also shrank, a separate Markit report showed. Readings below 50 signal contraction.

The Comex May-delivery contract was up 0.9 percent at $3.80 a pound. The metal for delivery in June on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 0.5 percent to close at 60,030 yuan ($9,525) a ton.

On the LME, aluminum rose 0.6 percent to $2,180 a ton, gaining for the first time in four days. Zinc advanced 1.5 percent to $2,015 a ton, paring a weekly loss to 3 percent.

Lead was up 1.3 percent at $2,008 a ton after yesterday touching $1,979.25, the lowest price since Jan. 11. The metal has dropped 4.7 percent this week, falling for the fourth straight week. That was the longest losing streak since the week ended Sept. 23. Nickel climbed 0.4 percent to $18,520 a ton and tin advanced 1.5 percent to $22,450 a ton.

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