Copper Rises on Speculation Bernanke May Hint at Stimulus

Copper rose, snapping the longest slump in 12 weeks, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank may need to provide more stimulus to revive sluggish U.S. job growth.

The unemployment rate is a “grave concern” for Fed policy makers, who will consider additional asset purchases among the options for boosting economic growth and job creation, Bernanke said today while speaking at an annual forum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is “important to achieve further progress,” he said. Slowing global expansion has limited copper demand and left prices down 18 percent from a year earlier.

“The Fed is what’s driving the markets today,” Dennis Cajigas, a senior market strategist at Zaner Group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Copper futures for December delivery rose 0.3 percent to settle at $3.457 a pound at 1:20 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price through yesterday was down 1.5 percent after dropping for five straight sessions, the longest slump since June 5.

The metal fell as much as 1.1 percent earlier today, after the text of Bernanke’s speech was released. The initial decline reflected disappointment from traders who had expected the Fed chief to outline new stimulus measures, Matt Zeman, a strategist at Kingsview Financial in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

“When that didn’t come out, they sold,” Zeman said. “But as those people get shaken out, the markets are rallying.”

China is the world’s top copper consumer, followed by the U.S.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three month climbed 0.6 percent to $7,615 a metric ton ($3.46 a pound).

Lead, aluminum and zinc also climbed in London. Tin and nickel fell.

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