Copper Sags as U.S. Retail-Sales Drop Fuels World Growth Concern

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Copper fell for the second time in three sessions as an unexpected decline in U.S. retail sales added to global growth concerns amid signs of slowing in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer.

Purchases at U.S. retailers dropped 0.3 percent in June, trailing the 0.3 percent average gain estimated in a Bloomberg survey of economists. China’s economy grew in the second quarter at the weakest pace since 2009, according to analysts surveyed before data to be released Wednesday.

“The surprisingly weak retail sales in the U.S. probably didn’t help base-metals sentiment,” Tai Wong, the director of commodity products trading at BMO Capital Markets Corp. in New York, said in a telephone interview. “The U.S. is one of the engines driving global demand. If that starts to weaken a little bit, that means we potentially have slower growth and weaker demand overall.”

Copper futures for September delivery declined 0.4 percent to settle at $2.535 a pound at 1:17 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price has slumped 10 percent this year.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.5 percent to $5,565 a ton ($2.52 a pound). Aluminum, nickel and lead dropped, while zinc and tin climbed.

BNP Paribas SA on Monday cut its forecast for the average price of nickel in 2016 by 24 percent to $15,000 a ton, and for tin by 29 percent to $17,950. Nickel has dropped 23 percent this year, and tin is down 24 percent.

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