Copper fell in New York as commodities retreated amid concern political turmoil in Spain and Italy may hamper governments in responding to the euro-area debt crisis that threatens growth and demand.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faces calls to resign amid contested reports of party corruption, while former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi aims to return to office in elections in three weeks. Raw materials from soybeans to crude oil slid as the dollar gained for a second day in three against the euro, making commodities less appealing as an alternative investment.
“The markets are reacting to political fears in Spain and Italy, which has taken the shine off outperforming equity markets,” said Mark Newson-Smith, head of sales at XConnect Trading Ltd. in London. “Recent negative headlines out of the euro zone are a good test for sentiment.”
Copper for delivery in March declined 0.8 percent to $3.7385 a pound by 7:23 a.m. on the Comex in New York. The metal for delivery in three months fell 0.6 percent to $8,222 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange.
Comex prices are up 2.4 percent this year, helped by the first increase in economic growth in eight quarters in China, the world’s biggest copper consumer. Still, stockpiles of the metal tracked by the LME climbed 21 percent this year as orders to remove copper from warehouses slid 36 percent.
“The outlook for industrial metals is becoming more polarized,” said Daniel Brebner, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in London. “Some believe in the sustainability of a global recovery, while others remain skeptical and look to take advantage in a possible correction into midyear.”
Trading volume in New York was 21 percent lower than the 100-day average for the current time of day, while volume on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was down 46 percent. Markets in China will be closed next week for Lunar New Year celebrations.
Copper stockpiles monitored by the LME, at the highest level since December 2011, gained for a second day to 386,500 tons. Orders to remove the metal from warehouses jumped 5.2 percent, the most since Jan. 4, to 32,900 tons.
Aluminum, tin, nickel, zinc and lead fell on the LME.