Copper Rises Most in 3 Weeks as Mine Strike Eases Glut Concerns

  • Operations at Salvador mine remains suspended: union president
  • Mortgage applications in U.S. rise for a second straight week

Copper had the biggest advance in almost three weeks as a mine strike in Chile, the largest producer, helped ease concerns that global supplies of the metal will exceed demand.

The walkout by one of the two main unions at the Salvador mine run by Codelco entered its third day, with operations suspended, union president Patricio Elgueta said by telephone. In the U.S., the largest copper user after China, data Wednesday showed mortgage applications rose for a second straight week, adding to signs of housing-market strength and boosting demand prospects for the metal used in pipes and wiring.

“The idea is that the strike would help remove some of that building supply from the market, if we do see a production cutback,” Tim Evans, the Chicago-based chief market strategist at Long Leaf Trading Group Inc., said in a telephone interview. “Mortgage applications that came in a little better than we expected could lend some additional activity in the real-estate sector, which obviously copper would benefit from.”

Copper for delivery in three months gained 0.6 percent to $4,650 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest gain since Aug. 18.

Prices are still down 1.2 percent this year, the worst performance among the six main metals traded on the LME, as inventories tracked by the bourse soar amid mounting concerns about slowing global demand.

In other metals news:

  • Aluminum, nickel, zinc and tin also gained on the LME, while lead declined.
  • In New York, copper futures for December delivery advanced on the Comex.
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