Copper Drops as Barclays Sees China Demand Growth at 18-Year Low

  • China's copper demand to increase 2 percent this year
  • `China enters into a permanently slower growth rate:' analyst

Copper posted the biggest decline in almost two weeks as Barclays Plc said demand for the metal in top user China will grow at the slowest pace in almost two decades.

Copper touched a six-year low earlier this month as a selloff in China’s stock market spread around the world and added to concerns about weakening demand. Consumption in the Asian country will grow 2 percent this year, the smallest increase since 1998, Barclays analysts including Kevin Norrish wrote in a report dated Wednesday.

“The copper market is entering a new normal where China enters into a permanently slower growth rate, and this will have profound implications on the global balance and prices,” Dane Davis, an analyst at Barclays in New York, said in a telephone interview.

Copper for delivery in three months dropped 1.3 percent to settle at $4,530 a metric ton ($2.05 a pound) at 5:51 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest loss since Jan. 15. Aluminum, nickel, tin and zinc also declined on the LME, while lead gained. 

In New York, copper futures for March delivery fell on the Comex.

  • The Bloomberg Americas Mining Index of 22 producers slid as much as 1.5 percent on Thursday, led by Freeport-McMoRan Inc., which fell after its credit rating was lowered four levels to junk status by Moody’s Investors Service.
  • Caterpillar Inc. reported better-than-expected earnings as cutbacks blunted the effects of a commodities meltdown.
  • Anglo American Plc rose as much 15 percent in London trading after it reported an increase in copper and nickel production in the fourth quarter. The company’s Kumba Iron Ore unit may cut as many as 3,900 jobs at its Sishen mine in South Africa.
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