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Copper Declines to Three-Week Low on Demand Concerns

Copper fell to the lowest in more than three weeks in New York amid concern that the economic recovery in the U.S. may falter at a time when growth in China is slowing, hurting demand for the metal.

Jobless claims in the U.S. increased by 14,000 to 348,000 in the week ended Feb. 22, exceeding all forecasts in a survey and the highest level in a month, a Labor Department report showed today. Chinese manufacturing probably slowed this month, economists surveyed by Bloomberg said before an official gauge due March 1.

“The outlook for the Chinese economy looks to have dominated the market focus,” Tom Power, a senior commodities broker at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The report on rising jobless claims in the U.S. is hurting the market as well. We need to see some real strong economic data before the market starts trading higher.”

Copper futures for delivery in May slid 0.5 percent to $3.201 a pound at 1:18 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $3.1835, the lowest since Feb. 4.

The Federal Reserve is likely to maintain its strategy of gradually trimming asset purchases even as it takes time for the job market to recover, Chair Janet Yellen said today in remarks prepared for delivery to the Senate Banking Committee.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell less than 0.1 percent to $7,025 a metric ton ($3.19 a pound). The metal touched $6,993.50, the lowest since Dec. 4.

Stockpiles of the metal monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange are at a nine-month high. Orders to remove the metal from warehouses monitored by the LME fell for a sixth session to 149,250 tons, the lowest since April.

Nickel, zinc and lead gained in London while aluminum fell. Tin was unchanged.

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