Copper Advance as Traders Weigh Growth Against Stimulus Outlook

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Copper futures gained for a second straight day in New York as investors weighed signs of improving economies against forecasts for the Federal Reserve to start curbing U.S. stimulus this week.

German investor confidence climbed to a three-year high in September, according to the ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim, while homebuilder sentiment in the U.S. held at the highest in almost eight years. Fed policy makers will probably lower the monthly pace of bond purchases by $10 billion, to $75 billion, at meetings today and tomorrow, based on the median of economists in a Bloomberg News survey Sept. 6.

“The Fed is going into a meeting where the market expects tapering, but some better-than-expected economic data is helping put a floor under prices,” David Meger, the director of metal trading at Vision Financial Markets in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to see a lot of back and forth on prices until we get more clarity from the Fed.”

Copper futures for December delivery advanced less than 0.1 percent to settle at $3.223 a pound at 1:19 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices rose 0.6 percent yesterday.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo confidence index registered 58 this month, matching August’s revised reading as the strongest since November 2005, a report from the Washington-based group showed today. Readings greater than 50 mean more builders view conditions as good rather than poor.

The U.S. is the world’s biggest copper consumer after China. Germany is the third-largest user.

Copper stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell for a ninth straight session, to 574,600 metric tons, exchange data show.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months slipped 0.1 percent to $7,075 a ton ($3.21 a pound).

Aluminum, lead, nickel and zinc declined in London. Tin rose.

To contact the reporter 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