Copper Futures Fall on Sluggish U.S. Housing Sentiment

Copper futures fell for the first time in three sessions on signs that the U.S. housing recovery may be slowing, fueling speculation that demand will ebb for the metal used in pipes and wiring.

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders in November stayed at a four-month low. In the week ended Nov. 12, hedge funds and other large speculators turned bearish on copper for the first time in two months, government data showed on Nov. 15.

“The market is worried about demand for many industrial commodities,” Bill O’Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “There’s no imminent fundamental development coming along that’s going to be supportive, and you don’t see funds rushing in to support this thing, either.”

Copper futures for March delivery fell 0.7 percent to settle at $3.1605 a pound at 1:05 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Last week, the metal dropped 2.2 percent, the most since late August.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment gauge was unchanged at 54, below the 55 median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Readings above 50 mean more respondents reported good market conditions. Bearish bets on copper outnumbered bullish wagers by 8,117 futures and option contacts last week. That marked the biggest net-short position since early August.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.5 percent to $6,975 a metric ton ($3.16 a pound). The price has dropped 12 percent this year.

Aluminum, lead, nickel, tin and zinc declined on the LME.