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Copper Retreats as European Growth Concerns Dim Demand Outlook

Copper futures dropped the most in four weeks amid concern that persistent economic weakness in Europe will undercut demand for the metal.

A report today showed the euro-area’s economy shrank in the third quarter, slipping 0.1 percent from the previous three months and confirming data from last month showing the currency union fell into a recession. The European Central Bank cut its forecast for 2013 to a contraction of 0.3 percent, rather than expected growth of 0.5 percent.

“The commentary out of the ECB is weighing on the market,” Fain Shaffer, the president of Infinity Trading Corp. in Medford, Oregon, said in a telephone interview. “The problems in Europe aren’t going away.”

Copper futures for March delivery fell 1.1 percent to $3.6445 a pound at 1:17 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest drop since Nov. 7.

Inventories monitored by the London Metal Exchange increased 1.8 percent to 253,575 metric tons on deliveries in Rotterdam, daily exchange figures showed. Orders to withdraw the metal declined to a three-month low.

“We probably won’t be in a solid economic zone in Europe for at least a couple more years,” Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months dropped 0.9 percent to $8,000 a ton ($3.63 a pound).

Zinc, aluminum, lead and nickel also were lower in London. Tin rose.

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