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Industrial Metals Decline as China Data Prompt Economic Concerns

Copper pared gains and industrial metals dropped as data from China, the biggest user, raised concerns about the country’s economic outlook.

Copper for delivery in three months was little changed at $7,731.25 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange by 3:01 p.m. Shanghai time after climbing as much as 0.4 percent. Aluminum dropped 0.3 percent to $1,959.50 a ton and nickel lost 0.5 percent to $16,645 a ton.

China’s industrial production rose 9.9 percent in the first two months, trailing economists’ estimates, as new local-currency loans in February and retail sales in the first two months also fell short of forecasts. Consumer prices climbed a more-than-estimated 3.2 percent in February from a year earlier, while fixed-asset investment increased by higher-than-estimated 21.2 percent in January and February, data released over the weekend showed.

“The latest data prompted concerns about the next few months, on whether there will be any tightening measures,” Zhang Ao, an analyst at Minmetals Futures Co., said by phone from Shenzhen. “We should continue to keep an eye on the macro economy.”

The contract for delivery in May on the Comex in New York traded little changed at $3.5125 per pound. Net-short positions, or wagers on falling prices, held by funds gained to 16,391 futures and options contracts as of March 5 from 7,172 a week earlier, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The contract for June delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 0.5 percent to close at 56,470 yuan ($9,081) a ton.

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