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Copper Rises as Higher Energy Costs May Curb Production at Mines

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March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Copper gained the most in more than a week on speculation that higher energy costs will limit production of raw materials, including metals.

Crude-oil futures jumped as much as 2.8 percent in New York, and U.S. retail-gasoline prices tracked by AAA have surged 19 percent this year to a 10-month high of $3.889 a gallon. Copper also rose as the dollar dropped as much as 0.7 percent against a basket of six currencies, boosting the appeal of the metal as an alternative investment.

“There’s still a positive trajectory for the economy, and the higher price of oil puts a lot of pressure on other commodities because it costs more to ship them,” Adam Klopfenstein, a market strategist at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Weakness in the dollar is also helping copper.”

Copper futures for May delivery advanced 1.1 percent to settle at $3.805 a pound at 1:16 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain since March 15. The metal fell 1.8 percent this week on concern that slowing economic growth would hurt demand in China, the world’s biggest consumer.

The number of Americans saying the U.S. economy is getting better rose in March to the highest level since 2004, Bloomberg’s monthly consumer expectations survey showed yesterday. Thirty-four percent said the economy was improving.

Copper inventories monitored by the London Metal Exchange have dropped 31 percent this year to the lowest since November 2008.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months rose 1.1 percent to $8,380 a metric ton ($3.80 a pound).

Zinc, lead, aluminum and tin also advanced in London. Nickel fell.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Richter in New York at jrichter1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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