Copper Falls on Surprise Drop in U.S. Consumer Confidence

Copper prices fell for the second time in three days as confidence among American consumers unexpectedly slumped in March.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index fell to the lowest since December 2011 after analysts anticipated an increase. The consumer-price index posted the biggest gain since June 2009, while industrial production rose more than forecast in February.

“The confidence index was a blow, and the market will be closely watching the CPI numbers to see if there is any indication about a rise in inflation,” Tim Evans, the chief market strategist at Long Leaf Trading Group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “People have largely ignored the better-than-expected data.”

Copper futures for May delivery dropped 0.5 percent to settle at $3.5205 a pound at 1:20 p.m. on the Comex in New York, leaving prices down 3.6 percent this year.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months declined 0.6 percent to $7,752 a metric ton ($3.52 a pound).

Combined inventory monitored by exchanges in the U.S., London and Shanghai has climbed to the highest since 2003.

Aluminum, nickel, zinc, tin and lead prices fell in London.

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