Copper Falls as Jobless Claims, UPS Earnings Cloud Outlook

Copper fell for the first time this week as a jump in U.S. jobless claims and a disappointing earnings forecast by United Parcel Service Inc. signaled the recovery is making uneven progress.

Filings for unemployment benefits rose 38,000 last week, the most since Nov. 10, government data showed today. Atlanta-based UPS, the world’s largest package-delivery company, said earnings this year will be $4.80 to $5.06 a share, below the $5.13 estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Copper rose 2.7 percent the previous three days on signs of economic growth in the U.S. and China.

“We’ve seen some good economic numbers lately, but the market is torn because it looks like things may be slower than it had believed,” Bart Melek, the Toronto-based head of commodity strategy at TD Securities, said in a telephone interview. “Copper may have moved up a bit too fast, and now people are paring down expectations.”

Copper futures for delivery in March slipped 0.5 percent to settle at $3.732 a pound at 1:08 p.m. on the Comex in New York, paring the monthly gain to 2.2 percent.

Investors use UPS as a gauge of the economy because it handles goods as varied as auto parts and pharmaceuticals.

Copper also fell as industrial production in Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest consumer, rose less in December than economists forecast. China is the largest buyer of the metal, followed by the U.S. and Germany.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months was 0.7 percent lower at $8,165 a metric ton ($3.70 a pound). Nickel, tin, aluminum, zinc and lead also declined on the LME.

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