Copper futures fell to a three-week low on mounting concern that metals demand will decline in China, the world’s top consumer.
Chinese government data due Wednesday will probably show the nation’s gross domestic product expanded 7 percent in the first quarter from the same period last year, according to a Bloomberg survey. That would be the slowest pace since the global recession of 2009.
“The Chinese GDP figure will be announced tomorrow, and some people think it will not be that favorable,” Richard Fu, the director of Asian commodity trading at Societe Generale Newedge U.K. Ltd. in London, said in a telephone interview. “China is a big producer and consumer of most of the base metals, so you figure if it’s not as good as expected, there will be a more bearish mood back in the market.”
Copper futures for May dropped 0.7 percent to settle at $2.70 a pound at 1:23 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $2.675, the lowest since March 20.
At an industry gathering in Chile this week, mining executives talking up copper’s long-term prospects have been unsettled by the level of Chinese buying. Traditionally, purchases accelerate after Lunar New Year celebrations. Not this year, according to Freeport McMoRan Inc. Senior Vice President Marketing & Sales Javier Targhetta and Aurubis AG Chief Executive Officer Bernd Drouven.
Copper for delivery in three months lost 0.8 percent to $5,945 a metric ton ($2.70 a pound) on the London Metal Exchange.
Also in London, lead and zinc declined, while nickel, aluminum and tin rose.