Copper Falls to Eight-Month Low on Signs Economy Cools

Copper prices fell to an eight-month low on signs that the economy is cooling in the U.S., the world’s second-biggest consumer of the metal.

In March, service industries expanded at the slowest pace in seven months and companies added fewer workers than economists projected, separate private reports showed today. Copper inventories monitored by the London Metal Exchange have jumped 79 percent this year to the highest since October 2003.

“The LME complex continues to be weighed down by growing questions about end-user demand and an improving supply situation in many metals,” Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone in New York, said in a report.

On the Comex in New York, copper futures for May delivery declined 1.3 percent to settle at $3.333 a pound at 1:15 p.m. Earlier, the price touched $3.3295, the lowest for a most-active contract since Aug. 3. China is the top consumer.

In the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index fell to 54.4, trailing the 55.5 median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The 158,000 increase in ADP’s employment report was the smallest since October. Analysts forecast a gain of 200,000.

Copper for delivery in three months fell 1 percent to $7,388 a metric ton ($3.35 a pound) on the LME.

“There is limited physical demand and no shortage of supply,” Guy Wolf, a macro strategist at Marex Spectron Group in London, said in an e-mail. “The rise in LME stocks is simply a reflection of this.”

Aluminum, nickel and tin dropped in London, while zinc rose. Lead was unchanged.

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