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Industrial Metals Drop as China Flash PMI Trails Estimate

Copper slumped to an 18-month low in New York after manufacturing was weaker than estimated in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer.

The preliminary reading of a Purchasing Managers’ Index for China fell to 50.5 for April, below the 51.5 projected in a Bloomberg News survey, data released today by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Euro-area services and factory output shrank for a 15th month, while a manufacturing index in the U.S. dropped more than forecast, separate reports showed.

“Metal prices are down once again, this time on account of growing concern over the poor macro readings out of China,” Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone in New York, said in a report. The PMI figures were “indicative of overcapacity in the supply chain and soft demand,” he said.

Copper futures for delivery in July declined 1.3 percent to settle at $3.104 a pound at 1:11 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices earlier touched $3.0685, the lowest since Oct. 20, 2011, after entering a bear market last week.

Morgan Stanley cut its price forecasts for industrial metals today, citing a “soft patch” in the global economy. Copper will average $3.53 this year, 9 percent less than previously estimated, the bank said in a report.

Copper stockpiles tracked by the London Metal Exchange increased 1.4 percent to 621,600 metric tons, the highest since August 2003, exchange figures showed.

As of April 19, the number of copper futures outstanding in London, or open interest, rose to the highest since December 2011, exchange figures showed today.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.9 percent to $6,870 a ton ($3.12 a pound).

Nickel, tin and zinc also retreated in London. Aluminum and lead gained.

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