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Copper Futures Fall in New York as China Adds to Growth Concerns

Copper fell the most in four sessions in New York, on speculation that metals demand will slow as China’s government will take steps to tame inflation and global growth weakens.

China’s swap market is signaling interest-rate increases for the first time since 2011, after inflation accelerated to a 10-month high and the government measures failed to slow the rise in housing prices. Hedge funds are making the biggest bet against copper on record, U.S. government figures showed last week.

“China’s growth story remains intact, but there are serious concerns about the short-term outlook given the property bubble and the ratcheting up of the government response,” Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone in New York, said in a report. “The global outlook remains patchy at best.”

Copper futures for May delivery retreated 0.6 percent to $3.445 a pound at 1:19 p.m. on Comex in New York. The metal dropped 1.5 percent last week, the biggest loss in a month.

Supplies that are outstripping demand are also weighing on prices, Meir said.

Stockpiles of copper in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange expanded 0.5 percent to 565,350 metric tons, the highest since October 2003, LME data today showed. Inventories have jumped 77 percent this year.

Speculators raised net-short positions in U.S. copper futures and options by 53 percent to 25,719 contracts in the week ended March 19, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data. That’s the lowest since the data began in 2006.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months slipped 0.5 percent to $7,620 a ton ($3.46 a pound).

Nickel, zinc, aluminum and lead also were lower in London, while tin advanced.

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