Copper Swings as Investors Weigh U.S. Economic Data, Stimulus

Copper swung between gains and losses as stockpiles extended declines and investors assessed the timing of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus cuts after an unexpected drop in U.S. jobless claims.

The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange was little changed at $7,010 a metric ton by 4:11 p.m. in Tokyo after rising as much as 0.4 percent and losing as much as 0.2 percent. The metal is down 3.1 percent in November, poised for a second monthly decline.

Jobless claims in the week ended Nov. 23 fell to 316,000, the fewest in two months, according to the Labor Department yesterday, a sign that the labor market is showing resilience. Minutes of the Fed’s October meeting released last week showed that officials may reduce their $85 billion a month of bond buying if the economy improves as anticipated.

“An improving U.S. economy has two opposite effects,” said Tetsu Emori, a senior fund manager at Astmax Asset Management Inc. in Tokyo. “Yesterday’s U.S. data boosted demand prospects, while stoking speculation the Fed will taper stimulus soon.”

Floor trading is closed today on the Comex in New York for the Thanksgiving holiday while electronic trading continues. Copper for delivery in March was little changed at $3.194 a pound on the Comex.

Stockpiles in LME-monitored warehouses yesterday slid for an 18th straight session to 431,900 tons, the lowest since Feb. 25, daily data showed.

Copper for delivery in February on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 0.5 percent to close at 50,420 yuan ($8,276) a ton. An official report today showed China’s industrial profits rose 15.1 percent in October on an annualized basis from a year earlier, slowing from a 18.4 percent pace the month before.

On the LME, zinc and nickel advanced, while aluminum and tin declined. Lead was little changed.

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