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Copper Falls Most in Seven Weeks on China, Japan Reports

Copper futures fell the most in seven weeks as declines in Chinese manufacturing and Japanese exports spurred concern that a sagging global economy will curb metal demand.

A Chinese purchasing managers’ index showed a preliminary reading of 47.8 in September, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics said today. That would mark the 11th straight month of readings below 50, indicating contraction. Japanese exports slid 5.8 percent in August from a year earlier, the third decline in a row.

“There is a real slowdown happening in China, which is hammering metal prices in the rest of the world,” Mark Lewon, the president of Salt Lake City-based scrap recycler Utah Metal Works Inc., said in an e-mail. “Higher metal prices won’t stay long, unless there is some improvement in the U.S., European and Chinese economies.”

Copper futures for December delivery dropped 1.4 percent to settle at $3.759 a pound at 1:15 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest decline for a most-active contract since Aug. 2. The metal jumped 11 percent in the two weeks ended Sept. 14 as central banks expanded economic stimulus.

China is the world’s biggest copper consumer, followed by the U.S., Germany and Japan. Chinese demand will rise 4.2 percent this year, below the prior 5 percent estimate, because of weaker-than-expected manufacturing, according to China International Capital Corp.

“At this point, we do not see a compelling physical backdrop,” analysts at the investment bank including James Luke said in a report.

Copper stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange rose 3.7 percent, the most since January 2009. Yesterday, they dropped to the lowest since October 2008.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months fell 1 percent to $8,270 a metric ton ($3.75 a pound). Zinc, aluminum, lead and tin also dropped, while nickel rose.

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