Copper Bear Market Deepens as Prices Decline to Six-Year Low

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Copper declined to a six-year low as an unexpected drop in German industrial production spurred concern that economic growth is slowing in Europe’s largest economy.

Manufacturers in Germany, the third-largest copper consumer, may have been hurt by a prolonged Greek debt crisis and a slowdown in China, a report showed Friday. All six main industrial metals are in bear markets as slowing global growth is threatening demand at a time when supplies are plentiful.

“The market is going through a bad patch,” Andrew Silver, a broker at Triland Metals Ltd., a London-based brokerage, said by telephone. “It’s a classic bear market. This is not a good sector at the moment. It’s very hard at the moment to find anything to give anyone an encouragement to buy any more metal than they absolutely need.”

Copper for delivery in three months fell 0.2 percent to settle at $5,173 a metric ton ($2.35 a pound) at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Prices touched $5,121 a ton, the lowest since July 2009.

Stockpiles tracked by the LME rose for a sixth week, to 352,325 tons, the highest since January 2014. In warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange, inventories climbed 11 percent to 114,000 metric tons this week, the biggest gain since Feb. 26.

Also on the LME, nickel, zinc, tin and aluminum fell, while lead rose. In New York, copper futures for September delivery slid 0.4 percent to $2.3325 a pound on the Comex.

China, the largest user of industrial metals, publishes trade data on Saturday that should provide clues on demand. The data include total copper imports and aluminum exports. Aluminum product shipments rose to a record in June, piling more pressure on global prices.

“We’ve had so much bad news that it really looks like there’s more weakness coming in the industrial-metals market,” Michael Smith, the president of T&K Futures and Options Inc. in Port St. Lucie, Florida, said in a telephone interview. “Until we see good numbers starting to come out of China, the pressure on prices is going to continue.”

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