Copper futures fell to the lowest in two weeks as a decline in U.S. equities sparked concern that the economic recovery may slow, dimming prospects for metal demand.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of stocks lost as much as 0.4 percent as Apple Inc. slumped. Copper erased gains this year after climbing 6.3 percent in 2012.
“The weak stock market implies weaker economic growth, as Apple has become somewhat of a bellwether for the U.S. economy,” Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The negative sentiment in stocks is going to make it tough for copper.”
Copper futures for March delivery slumped 0.5 percent to settle at $3.634 a pound at 1:18 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price touched $3.633, the lowest for a most-active contract since Dec. 31. The metal dropped 1.5 percent on Jan. 11 as accelerating inflation in China fueled speculation that the government will curb economic stimulus.
Earlier today, copper gained as much as 1 percent after U.S. and Japanese officials indicated that stimulus programs may be expanded.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months declined 0.6 percent to $8,000 a metric ton ($3.63 a pound). Aluminum, zinc, lead, nickel and tin also fell in London.