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Copper Advances as U.S. Home-Sales Gain Signals Improved Demand

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Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Copper rose for a second day in New York as an increase in U.S. home sales adds to signs of recovery in housing, pointing to higher demand for the metal used in pipes and wiring.

Purchases of previously owned houses, tabulated when a contract closes, increased 2.3 percent to a 4.47 million annual rate last month, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today. Construction generates about 40 percent of demand for the metal, according to the Copper Development Association.

“What we’ve seen recently is that that housing has definitely bottomed, which is a huge deal for copper,” Michael Smith, the president of T&K Futures & Options in Port St. Lucie, Florida, said in a telephone interview. “The reality of the situation is that copper is telling us first what’s going on in the macro picture.”

Copper futures for December delivery climbed 0.4 percent to $3.474 a pound at 10:34 a.m. on the Comex in New York after reaching $3.48, the highest since July 20.

The home-sales figures follow a Commerce Department report last week that showed building permits, a proxy for future work, jumped to a four-year high in July.

Copper stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell 0.1 percent to 234,175 metric tons, the ninth drop in 10 sessions, daily exchange figures showed. Orders to withdraw the metal from warehouses jumped 21 percent, the biggest gain since July 12.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months gained 0.2 percent to $7,635.75 a ton ($3.46 a pound).

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

To contact the reporters 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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