Copper Rebounds on U.S. Housing Data, Cut in Rio Tinto Output

April 16 (Bloomberg) -- Copper rebounded in London from the lowest price in almost 18 months after U.S. housing starts rose more than expected and a mine shutdown in Utah prompted Rio Tinto Group to cut its production forecast.

New-home construction in the U.S. climbed 7 percent to a 1.04 million annual rate, the most since June 2008, and above the 930,000 forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists, Commerce Department data showed. Rio’s full-year refined output will be 100,000 tons less than estimated after a wall slide at its Bingham Canyon mine, the world’s biggest man-made hole.

“The housing numbers were better than expected, and that’s helping the rebound in metals,” David Meger, the director of metal trading at Vision Financial Markets in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The Rio Tinto announcement is also supporting copper.”

Copper for delivery in three months advanced 1.4 percent to settle at $7,300 a metric ton ($3.31 a pound) at 5:50 p.m. local time on the London Metal Exchange. Prices yesterday touched $7,085, the lowest since Oct. 21, 2011.

The wall collapse on April 10 at the Utah mine could may leave the global-market balance “quite tight” this year, Nomura International Plc said last week.

In New York, copper futures for delivery in May gained 1 percent to close at $3.3055 a pound on the Comex.

Aluminum, tin, zinc, lead and nickel rose in London.

BHP Billiton Ltd. is the world’s biggest mining company, followed by Rio.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Richter in New York at jrichter1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net