Copper Declines as China Concern Clouds the Outlook for Demand

Copper fell in London on lingering concern demand will weaken as the economy slows in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the metal.

China may have difficulty realizing a 7.5 percent growth target for this year, 21st Century Business Herald reported today. The economy may expand less than 7 percent in 2013, Bank of Singapore said this week. Growth will slow at least through 2015, according to forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. Some traders sold copper to capitalize on gains, according to Barclays Plc.

“People are bearish on China,” Gayle Berry, an analyst at Barclays in London, said by phone. “They see base metals as a bearish China trade. Whenever you get any rallies, even any strength in metals prices, you’re going to see that being sold into. Copper has experienced some of that.”

Copper for delivery in three months slid 0.6 percent to $6,950 a metric ton by the close on the London Metal Exchange after reaching a two-week high yesterday. Copper for September delivery fell 0.7 percent to $3.152 a pound on the Comex in New York, where floor trading was shut today for Independence Day.

Employers in the U.S., the second-biggest copper user, hired 165,000 workers last month, a Bloomberg survey of economists showed before government figures due tomorrow. The jobless rate may drop to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent. Progress in the labor market is among criteria weighed by the Federal Reserve in deciding whether to reduce its monthly bond-buying.

“U.S. jobs data are worryingly looming over the market,” Michael Turek, a senior director at Newedge Group SA in New York, said by e-mail today.

Copper for immediate delivery on the LME settled at a $4.50-a-ton premium to the three-month contract after swinging between a premium and a discount. Traders who made bets on falling prices had difficulty buying metal to offset their positions, according to Barclays.

Aluminum rose in London and zinc was unchanged. Nickel, tin and lead fell.