Copper Falls Most in Four Months on U.S., China Housing

Copper futures in New York fell the most in four months as a drop in U.S. homebuilder confidence and speculation that China will move to cool property purchases damped demand prospects for the metal used in pipes and wiring.

Builder sentiment in February fell to 46 from January’s 47 that matched the highest reading since April 2006, a National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo report showed today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists projected a rise to 48. China Business News reported that the nation may introduce more policies to curb property prices.

“Any sign that China may be limiting its real-estate market is certainly concerning from a demand perspective,” David Meger, the director of metal trading at Vision Financial Markets in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The builder-confidence report is one more slight negative for the market.”

Copper futures for May delivery dropped 2.3 percent to settle at $3.6665 a pound at 1:13 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest decline for a most-active contract since Oct. 19. Floor trading was closed yesterday for a public holiday. China is the world’s top consumer of industrial metals, followed by the U.S.

The Copper Development Association says that construction generates 40 percent of demand for the metal. Readings lower than 50 in the U.S. homebuilder index mean more respondents said conditions were poor.

Stockpiles of copper monitored by the London Metal Exchange gained 1.7 percent to 411,250 metric tons, the highest since November 2011. Orders to withdraw the metal from warehouses decreased 6.3 percent, the most since Jan. 24.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.8 percent to $8,050 a ton ($3.65 a pound). The price dropped 1.1 percent yesterday.

Tin, lead, aluminum and nickel also fell in London. Zinc was unchanged.

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