Copper Rises on Signs of Chinese, U.S. Manufacturing Strength

Copper rose in New York for the first time in four sessions on signs that manufacturing is gaining strength in China and the U.S., the world’s biggest users of the metal.

Earnings at Chinese industrial companies advanced for a fourth month in December, increasing 17 percent from a year earlier, the country’s statistics bureau said today. A U.S. government report today showed stronger-than-expected durable goods orders in December.

“We’re seeing more and more good news out of China, and that will translate into higher copper prices,” Bill O’Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “The durable-goods number was further indication of improvement.”

Copper futures for delivery in March added 0.3 percent to settle at $3.6615 a pound at 1:16 p.m. on the Comex in New York.

Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 4.6 percent in the U.S., exceeding the highest forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, the government report showed.

Caterpillar Inc., the world’s biggest maker of construction and mining equipment, said prices of the metal are poised to advance after reporting fourth-quarter profit that exceeded analyst estimates. Copper will average $3.75 this year as increased economic growth boosts demand, the Peoria, Illinois-based company said in an earnings statement today.

The metal lost 0.7 percent last week amid concern that supplies may exceed demand this year. Chile, the world’s biggest copper-mining nation, said today that output probably will reach a record this year as BHP Billiton Ltd. ramps up production and state-owned Codelco starts a new mine in the Atacama Desert.

Output will rise 3 percent to 5.6 million metric tons this year, exceeding an all-time high of 5.56 million tons set in 2007, according to estimates released by the government’s copper commission Cochilco.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose 0.2 percent to $8,050 a ton ($3.65 a pound).

Zinc, aluminum, lead and nickel gained in London. Tin fell.

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