Copper Drops After Biggest Gain in Three Months Amid Supply Risk

Copper declined for the first time in three days after jumping the most in three months yesterday, amid concern that supply growth will outpace demand from China, the world’s biggest consumer.

Metal for delivery in three months dropped as much as 0.8 percent to $7,572.50 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange and was at $7,581 at 2:16 p.m. in Shanghai. Copper gained as much as 2.6 percent yesterday, the most since Jan. 2. The May contract on the Comex fell 0.5 percent to $3.4245 a pound.

Rio Tinto Group is “cautiously optimistic” that the first commercial production at its Oyu Tolgoi copper project in Mongolia will come in summer as talks advance with the government, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, head of the London-based company’s copper unit, said in an interview in Santiago.

“Yesterday’s advance looks a bit overdone as the market theme this year is that a deficit is turning into surplus,” said Fang Junfeng, an analyst at Shanghai Cifco Futures Co. “China’s macroeconomic conditions will be the focus -- if Chinese demand is relatively good, then the surplus may be limited, otherwise it will be a totally different story.”

China’s exports rose 10 percent in March from a year earlier, missing a median estimate of 11.7 percent in a Bloomberg News survey, while imports climbed by an above-forecast 14.1 percent. Inbound shipments of unwrought copper and products were 319,603 tons, the customs department said today. That compared with 298,102 tons in February.

The contract for delivery in August on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.2 percent to 55,180 ($8,909) a ton. On the LME, aluminum and tin declined.

— With assistance by Helen Sun

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