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Copper Gains on Short Covering After China’s Imports Rise

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Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Copper rose in New York, marking the biggest gain in almost two weeks on signs of improved demand in China, the world’s biggest user of the metal.

Refined-copper imports by China last month climbed 8.7 percent from October to 250,666 metric tons, according to data e-mailed by the General Administration of Customs today. Reports today showed spending by U.S. consumers increased in November. Durable-goods orders rose 0.7 percent in November, more than forecast, the Commerce Department said in a report today.

“Some of the Chinese data” may be helping to boost copper prices, Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics LLC in Austin, Texas, said in a telephone interview today. ‘You’ve seen the positive economic data out of the U.S. that has created a little bit of a floor and provided some upside,’’ he said.

Copper futures for March delivery added 0.9 percent to close at $3.567 a pound at 1:19 p.m. on the Comex in New York, marking the biggest gain since Dec. 10. Today’s increase pared this week’s loss to 3.1 percent.

Whether or not U.S. lawmakers reach an agreement on a budget to avoid more than $600 billion of automatic tax increases and spending cuts will determine if a price rally is sustainable, Matt Zeman, a strategist at Kingsview Financial in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

The MSCI All-Country World Index of equities fell as much as 1.1 percent, and the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 commodities slumped as much as 1 percent after House Republican leaders scrapped a plan to allow higher taxes as budget talks stalled.

Copper stockpiles tracked by the London Metal Exchange rose for a 12th day to 312,400 tons, the highest level since February, data showed today. Inventories gained on deliveries in Busan, South Korea, bringing the advance this month to 26 percent.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months gained 0.8 percent to $7,831 a ton ($3.55 a pound). Aluminum and zinc rose in London. Tin, lead and nickel dropped.

To contact the reporters on this story: Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London at atroszkiewic@bloomberg.net; Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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