Copper prices fell for the second time in three days as confidence among American consumers unexpectedly slumped in March.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index fell to the lowest since December 2011 after analysts anticipated an increase. The consumer-price index posted the biggest gain since June 2009, while industrial production rose more than forecast in February.
“The confidence index was a blow, and the market will be closely watching the CPI numbers to see if there is any indication about a rise in inflation,” Tim Evans, the chief market strategist at Long Leaf Trading Group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “People have largely ignored the better-than-expected data.”
Copper futures for May delivery dropped 0.5 percent to settle at $3.5205 a pound at 1:20 p.m. on the Comex in New York, leaving prices down 3.6 percent this year.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months declined 0.6 percent to $7,752 a metric ton ($3.52 a pound).
Combined inventory monitored by exchanges in the U.S., London and Shanghai has climbed to the highest since 2003.
Aluminum, nickel, zinc, tin and lead prices fell in London.