Copper Leads Industrial Metals Lower After Chinese Imports Fall

Copper led declines in industrial metals, falling by most in more than a week as lower imports of the commodity by China suggested demand by the largest consumer may be weaker than estimated.

The metal for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange dropped 0.9 percent to $7,216.50 a metric ton at 2:53 p.m. in Singapore, the biggest drop since Sept. 12. Nickel slid 0.7 percent and tin fell 0.9 percent.

Refined copper imports by China fell 10 percent to 262,942 tons in August from July, the General Administration of Customs said yesterday. Markets reopened in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan today after holidays last week when the Federal Reserve unexpectedly announced on Sept. 18 that it needed more evidence of a U.S. economic recovery before paring its stimulus program.

“Copper imports may fall further as consumption might be a bit disappointing in the second half,” said Wu Jianguo, an analyst at Maike Futures Brokerage Co, citing his own research after visiting fabricators in eastern China. Wu said prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were weaker-than-expected after the break.

Futures for delivery in December in Shanghai rose 0.8 percent to 52,070 yuan ($8,511) a ton after being closed on Sept. 19 and 20. Futures for delivery in December on the Comex in New York were down 1 percent at $3.2885 a pound. Comex prices rose 3.7 percent last week while on the LME, they advanced 3.4 percent.

LME futures had fallen as much 1.6 percent today before a Chinese manufacturing index rose to a six-month high. The preliminary reading of 51.2 for September a Purchasing Managers’ Index by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics beat the median estimate of 50.9 from 14 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

— With assistance by Alfred Cang

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