Copper Falls to 15-Week Low on Supply Gain, U.S. Factory Orders

Copper fell to a 15-week low as rising inventories and a drop in U.S. factory orders fueled demand concerns.

Stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange climbed for a 15th straight day and are the highest since October 2011. Bookings to U.S. factories slid 2 percent in January, the most in five months, after a revised 1.3 percent increase in December that was lower than a prior estimate, government data showed today. Copper also fell on a stronger dollar, which makes commodities less appealing as an alternative investment.

“Factory orders were a bit of a dud, and inventories will certainly work to keep speculative buying at bay,” Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Copper futures for delivery in May declined 0.6 percent to close at $3.493 a pound at 1:16 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the lowest settlement since Nov. 16. The metal has lost 4.4 percent this year.

Customers are “very careful” and ordering on short notice, according to Aurubis AG, the world’s second-largest copper refiner. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., the top publicly traded producer of the metal, is pressing ahead with expansion projects, adding to prospects for increased supplies.

Stockpiles monitored by the LME, up 48 percent this year, increased 0.2 percent to 473,750 metric tons, daily exchange figures showed. Inventories tracked by the Shanghai Futures Exchange are near a one-year high.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months fell 1.1 percent to $7,690 a ton ($3.49 a pound).

Lead, aluminum, zinc and nickel also slipped in London. Tin rose.