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Copper Drops on Speculation China Demand Slowing Before Holiday

Copper retreated for the second time in three days on speculation demand in China, the world’s biggest consumer, will slow ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays. Nickel was little changed after touching the highest level in three months.

The copper contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange lost as much as 0.3 percent to $7,313.75 a metric ton and traded $7,328.50 at 4:57 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal has slid 0.4 percent this month.

China’s holidays start Jan. 31. The country’s copper imports fell 5 percent to 312,371 tons in December from a month earlier, according to customs data. Its economic growth slowed to 7.7 percent in the final quarter of last year from 7.8 percent in the previous period as industrial output grew at the weakest pace in five months in December, data showed this week.

“China’s slowing economic growth was a concern,” said Hwang Il Doo, a senior trader at Korea Exchange Bank Futures Co. in Seoul. “We’ve not seen good demand from China to build stockpiles ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.”

The metal for delivery in April closed unchanged at 51,630 yuan ($8,532) a ton on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. The contract for delivery in March slid 0.3 percent to $3.34 a pound on the Comex in New York.

Nickel was little changed at $14,725 a ton in London after touching $14,790 earlier, the highest level since Oct. 23. The metal remains the least attractive base metal, according to Morgan Stanley. Indonesia’s ore ban is not yet significant enough to change the market balance, the bank said in a report today.

On the LME, aluminum, lead and zinc also climbed, while tin fell.

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