Copper Advances as China Spending Plan Points to Rising Demand

Copper rose to the highest in more than a week as plans in China to increase spending on railroads and other projects boosted the outlook for demand in the world’s largest consumer of the metal.

China announced a jump in planned railway spending, and the State Council called for private investment in industries, including utilities, as Premier Wen Jiabao tries to reverse an economic slowdown. The country will spend 470 billion yuan ($74 billion) on railroads and bridges this year, a bond prospectus issued yesterday stated.

“Chinese policy rhetoric is becoming more metal-friendly,” Gayle Berry, an analyst at Barclays Plc in London, said by telephone. “They have voiced a view that while we are not going to see a big spending spree, we will see more targeted spending stimulus in the second half of the year.”

Copper futures for September delivery climbed less than 0.1 percent to settle at $3.4175 a pound at 1:21 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after rising to $3.457, the highest for a most-active contract since July 20.

Berry also cited speculation that central banks may announce new measures this week aimed at stoking growth. Federal Reserve policy makers begin a two-day meeting today, and European Central Bank officials will convene on Aug. 2.

Copper stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange, down 33 percent this year, slipped 0.1 percent to 248,825 metric tons, daily exchange figures showed.

Prospects for copper supply to fall short of demand have helped to support prices. Output of the metal from mines slid 18 percent from a year earlier in the first half, Xstrata Plc, the world’s fourth-largest producer, said in a statement. Barclays predicted this month a 139,000-ton copper production deficit for 2012.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months advanced 0.2 percent to $7,560 a metric ton ($3.43 a pound).

Nickel, aluminum, lead, zinc and tin fell in London.

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