Copper futures capped the biggest weekly loss in more than two months as signs of a slowing economy added to demand concerns in China, the world’s largest user of the metal.
Li Daokui, a former academic adviser at the People’s Bank of China, said today that the country will struggle to maintain 7.5 percent growth this year and next. Gross domestic product rose 7.7 percent last quarter. Industrial production weakened in December and manufacturing may shrink this month, data showed this week.
“Copper was hit hard following the downbeat news on the Chinese economy,” Jens Naervig Pedersen, an analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen, wrote in a note. “Markets will have to factor in weaker Chinese demand.”
Copper futures for delivery in March slipped 0.4 percent to settle at $3.2715 a pound at 1:16 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices fell 2.2 percent this week, the biggest decline for a most-active contract since the five days ended Nov. 15. Earlier, they touched $3.267, the lowest since Dec. 11.
China’s banking regulator ordered its regional offices to increase scrutiny of credit risks in the coal-mining industry, said two people with knowledge of the matter, signaling government concern about possible defaults.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months slid 0.4 percent to $7,180 a metric ton ($3.26 a pound).
Inventories tracked by the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed to 140,913 tons, the highest in more than a month, according to weekly figures.
Orders to remove the metal from LME warehouses dropped for a 31st session, to 180,100 tons, the lowest since May.
Zinc, nickel and aluminum fell, while lead gained. Tin was unchanged.