Copper Drops to Erase Year’s Gains on LME as China Imports Slide

  • Inventories on London exchange climb to highest since November
  • Copper’s fourth day of losses longest stretch since July 7

Copper fell for a fourth day, erasing its gains for the year, on surging inventories and signs of weak demand in China, the biggest consumer. Glencore Plc, the top copper supplier, fell after reporting profit declined by two-thirds.

Supply has been outpacing demand. China cut copper imports for a fourth month to the lowest level in 17 months, while inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange rose 21 percent over the past three days to the highest since November. 

“That is a precipitous spike. It’s definitely not helping copper’s cause,” Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics LLC in Austin, Texas, said in a telephone interview. China’s imports drop is “telling us what the health of the Chinese economy is.”

Copper for delivery in three months declined 1.7 percent to settle at $4,632 a metric ton ($2.10 a pound) at 5:50 p.m. on the LME, capping the longest stretch of losses since July 7. Prices are down 1.6 percent this year.

Glencore shares dropped as much as 6 percent, the most intraday since July 20, in London after posting a 66 percent drop in first-half profit on lower raw-materials prices. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer, said in an earnings report that while low prices had eroded earnings, the market may bottom out soon as central banks seek to boost growth.

In other metals:

  • An industry group in China said on Tuesday that the country aims to boost aluminum usage by almost 20 percent in the next three years. 
  • Nickel, zinc, lead and aluminum fell on the LME, while tin gained.
  • Copper futures for December delivery declined 1.9 percent to $2.085 a pound on the Comex in New York.
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