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Copper Futures Advance as Chinese Inflation Eases Policy Concern

Copper rose the most since January, leading industrial metals higher after weaker-than-estimated Chinese inflation eased concerns that the government will tighten monetary policy to slow growth.

Consumer prices increased 2.1 percent in March from a year earlier, China’s statistics bureau said today. That compares with the 2.5 percent median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The nation is the world’s biggest user of copper. Metal prices also climbed after aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.’s first-quarter earnings exceeded analysts’ estimates.

“The inflation data alleviated concerns that China would continue tightening monetary policy, and that’s positive for commodities,” David Meger, the director of metal trading at Vision Financial Markets in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Copper in particular is a beneficiary.”

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months climbed 2.4 percent to $7,630 a metric ton ($3.46 a pound) at 5:50 p.m., the biggest increase since Jan. 2.

In New York, copper futures for delivery in May added 2.1 percent to settle at $3.4415 a pound on the Comex, the biggest gain since Jan. 2.

Copper miners in Chile, the world’s largest producer, began a 24-hour nationwide strike today to push for greater job security. Exports were curbed by a three-week labor stoppage that ended April 5 by port workers in the country.

Aluminum for delivery in three months on the LME rose 1.5 percent to $1,919 a ton. Alcoa said yesterday that net income excluding a tax benefit and other one-time items was 11 cents a share, beating the 8-cent average of 18 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Demand for the lightweight metal in aircraft and cars improved, the company said.

Zinc advanced as much as 1.8 percent to $1,926.50 a ton in London, the highest since March 26. Lead, tin and nickel also gained.

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