Copper futures rebounded from the lowest this month as retail sales rose more than estimated, easing economic concerns fueled by clashes over the budget in the U.S., the world’s second-biggest consumer of the metal.
The Commerce Department said that retail sales in December climbed 0.5 percent, the most in three months and exceeding the 0.2 percent forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Earlier, copper fell to a two-week low after President Barack Obama warned yesterday of economic calamity if Congress fails to increase the nation’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.
“Retail sales gave copper a bit of a boost, with people breathing a sigh of relief that the budget battles don’t seem to have kept people from spending,” Matt Zeman, a strategist at Kingsview Financial in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.
Copper futures for March delivery gained 0.1 percent to settle at $3.6375 a pound at 1:23 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price touched $3.606, the lowest for a most-active contract since Dec. 31. China is top consumer of the metal.
Since 1960, Congress has raised or revised the debt limit 79 times, including 49 times under Republican presidents, according to the Treasury Department.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.1 percent to $7,994 a metric ton ($3.63 a pound). Lead and zinc also fell, while nickel and tin rose. Aluminum was unchanged.