Copper Set for Biggest Weekly Gain in Four as China Demand Grows

Copper advanced, heading for the biggest weekly gain in four weeks, as data showed that manufacturing in China expanded for a fourth consecutive month, fueling optimism demand will improve in the world’s largest user.

Metal for delivery in three months climbed as much as 0.7 percent to $8,225.50 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange before trading at $8,223.25 at 3:08 p.m. Shanghai time. Copper was poised for a 2.4 percent gain this week, the most since the period ended Jan. 4. Futures for delivery in March on the Comex rose 0.2 percent to $3.741 a pound.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index was 50.4 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said as they more than tripled the number of companies surveyed to 3,000. The reading compares with the 51 median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey and 50.6 in December. A figure above 50 indicates expansion. A separate report from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economic showed the manufacturing PMI at 52.3, the highest in two years.

“The data is not that bad,” Wu Jianjian, an analyst at Yongan Futures Co., said by phone from Hangzhou. “A relative bullish market sentiment is keeping copper in the uptrend.”

Copper traders are the most bullish in 15 months on mounting confidence that the U.S. economy will rebound at a time when China’s recovery is gaining momentum. Twenty-five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect prices to rise next week and five were bearish, making the proportion of bulls the highest since Oct. 14, 2011.

China’s new home prices climbed 1 percent in January, the biggest gain in two years, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest real estate website owner, citing its survey of 100 cities.

The May contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange dropped 0.1 percent to close at 59,660 yuan ($9,581) a ton. On the LME, aluminum and nickel gained, while zinc declined. Lead and tin were little changed.