Copper Falls in London as U.S. Factory Slump Dims Demand Outlook

Copper fell for the first time in three sessions in London after U.S. manufacturing contracted for the third straight month, adding to signs of a global economic slowdown that threatens metal demand.

The Institute for Supply Management said today that its U.S. factory index fell to 49.6 in August from 49.8 in July. Economists in a Bloomberg survey projected a reading of 50, the dividing line between expansion and contraction. In China, manufacturing last month contracted at the fastest pace since March 2009, a private survey showed yesterday.

“The data on manufacturing is not positive, and confidence is waning a bit,” Harry Denny, a broker at Hoboken, New Jersey-based PVM Futures Inc., said in a telephone interview. “People are reminded that there’s still trouble out there.”

Copper for delivery in three months slipped 0.6 percent to settle at $7,635 a metric ton ($3.46 a pound) at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. The metal gained 1.5 percent in the previous two sessions.

In New York, copper futures for December delivery rose 0.3 percent from Aug. 31 to close at $3.469 a pound on the Comex. Floor trading was closed yesterday for a U.S. holiday.

Moody’s Investors Service lowered its outlook for the European Union’s Aaa credit rating to negative from stable yesterday. A report showed euro-area manufacturing contracted more than estimated in August. The European Central Bank may unveil details of a new plan to buy bonds of indebted nations at a regular meeting of officials on Sept. 6.

Declines in copper may be limited by speculation that central banks in China and the U.S., the world’s leading consumers of industrial metal, will take steps to spur their economies.

“There’s been a slew of discouraging economic data lately,” Michael Turek, a senior director at Newedge Group in New York, said in a telephone interview. “Bad news means a greater probability of stimulus.”

In London, zinc and aluminum rose, while tin, lead and nickel fell.

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