Copper Falls on U.S. Jobless Claims, China Wealth-Product Rule

Copper fell to the lowest in more than a week after U.S. jobless claims rose and China tightened rules on wealth-management products, spurring concern that demand in the two biggest global metals users will slow.

First-time filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to the highest in more than a month, a government report showed today. China’s benchmark stock index fell to a three-month low on concern the new rule will curb financing.

“The U.S. economic numbers were far from inspiring,” Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Buyers are a little on the defensive today.”

Copper futures for delivery in May slid 1.2 percent to settle at $3.402 a pound at 1:14 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $3.3965, the lowest since March 20. The metal dropped 1.8 percent this week, a second straight loss.

Prices have fallen 6.9 percent this year, the third drop in four quarters, as stockpiles expanded. Copper inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange have surged 78 percent, the most since the third quarter of 2005, exchange figures show.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months fell declined 0.9 percent to $7,540 a metric ton ($3.42 a pound).

Aluminum, zinc, lead and nickel were also lower in London, while tin rose. The LME and Comex floor trading will be shut tomorrow for Good Friday. The LME also will be closed April 1 for Easter Monday.