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Copper Falls to Five-Week Low on Signs Economies Struggle

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Copper futures dropped to a five-week low as economic data from Australia to Europe fanned concern that metal demand may ebb.

Euro-area industrial output fell more than analysts estimated in July as the region struggled with high unemployment. Australia’s jobless rate last month reached a four-year high. Copper prices have declined 12 percent this year.

“The demand picture is dependent upon these industrial economies growing, and we got bad news there,” Michael Smith, the president of T&K Futures & Options in Port St. Lucie, Florida, said in a telephone interview. “This just brings up more demand concerns globally for copper.”

Copper futures for December delivery tumbled 1.4 percent to settle at $3.21 a pound at 1:18 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price touched $3.1915, the lowest for a most-active contract since Aug. 8.

The price fell for the third straight day amid speculation that the Federal Reserve will scale back U.S. monetary stimulus this month, eroding prospects for copper consumption. China is the world’s biggest user of the metal, followed by the U.S.

Rio Tinto Group said workers at its Kennecott Utah Copper unit were evacuated from a pit after a landslide yesterday. Another landslide in April hampered mining.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months slumped 1.5 percent to $7,060 a metric ton ($3.20 a pound). Lead, tin and nickel dropped, while aluminum and zinc rose.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Richter in Washington at jrichter1@bloomberg.net; Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London at atroszkiewic@bloomberg.net

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

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