Copper Futures Advance as Stimulus, Housing Buoy Demand Outlook

Copper advanced for the third time in four sessions on speculation that efforts by central banks to boost their economies, coupled with an improving U.S housing market, will underpin demand for the metal.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi may cut the benchmark rate to a record low, according to forecasts from Barclays Plc and UBS AG. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke at a policy meeting that starts tomorrow might have more room to press on with asset purchases as inflation pressures ebb. More Americans than forecast signed contracts to buy previously owned homes in March, a private report showed.

“Growth is slow enough around the world that it doesn’t look like stimulus will be pulled off the table any time soon,” Harry Denny, a broker at Hoboken, New Jersey-based PVM Futures Inc., said in a telephone interview. “Governments will continue to intervene in their economies, and that’s helping copper.”

Copper futures for July delivery climbed 1.3 percent to settle at $3.2265 a pound at 1:17 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The metal gained 0.7 percent last week.

The index of pending home sales increased 1.5 percent, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a 1 percent gain. The Copper Development Association says that construction generates 40 percent of demand for the metal.

Stockpiles in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell 0.3 percent today. Last week, inventories posted the smallest weekly increase in two months.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months on the LME rose 1.8 percent to $7,153.50 a ton ($3.25 a pound).

Aluminum, lead, nickel, tin and zinc also gained in London.

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