Copper Retreats as Slowing Industrial Production May Curb Demand

Copper fell on speculation that slowing industrial production from Europe to the U.S. may curb demand and as inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange reached the highest level since November 2011.

Copper for three-month delivery fell as much as 0.2 percent to $8,280 a metric ton on the LME and traded at $8,292 at 2:24 p.m. in Singapore. The metal for delivery in March gained 0.2 percent to $3.7665 a pound on the Comex in New York. Markets in China, the biggest consumer, are closed this week for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Industrial production in France, Europe’s second-largest economy, probably declined 0.2 percent in December from the previous month, when it rose 0.5 percent, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg before data today. Industrial production in the U.S. may have risen 0.2 percent in January from a 0.3 percent gain in a month earlier, data may show this week.

“As the industrial production numbers come out for December and January, if they continue to be weak then that would be another reason for the price not to escalate,” said David Lennox, an analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney. Higher stockpiles may also constrain prices, he said by phone today.

LME copper stockpiles climbed 6.3 percent to 399,825 tons last week, the highest since November 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Zinc dropped 0.2 percent to $2,201.50 a ton after reaching $2,218 on Feb. 8, the most expensive since Jan. 26, 2012. LME inventories dropped for a third week to the lowest since November, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Aluminum gained 0.3 percent to $2,126 a ton, lead declined 0.2 percent to $2,417 a ton and nickel rose 0.2 percent to $18,350 a ton.

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