Copper Caps Longest Rally in Three Years as Inventories Decline

Copper futures capped the longest rally in three years as global inventories fell to the lowest in 12 months, signaling rising metals demand as economic growth improves.

Stockpiles tracked by exchanges in London, New York and Shanghai tumbled 24 percent since the end of September and are at the lowest since Dec. 14, 2012. U.S. industrial production climbed in November by the most in a year, while Euro-area factory output grew at a faster pace than economists forecast in December, separate reports showed today.

Copper has rebounded 12 percent since reaching the lowest in almost three years in June as manufacturing expanded in China and the U.S., the world’s biggest consumers. On the London Metal Exchange, supplies available for delivery from warehouses are at the lowest since August 2008. Global production will trail demand by 79,000 metric tons this year, according to Barclays Plc.

“When you start to see these types of stockpile declines, it opens the eyes of those who need copper at some point down the road,” Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “They’ll go out and start securing copper for future delivery now. And so it becomes a snowball effect of higher prices. I would expect prices to continue to rise.”

Copper futures for delivery in March advanced 0.5 percent to settle at $3.3295 a pound at 1:19 p.m. on the Comex in New York, a seventh straight gain. On the LME, copper for delivery in three months gained 0.5 percent to $7,290 a ton ($3.31 a pound).

‘Good Demand’

Aurubis AG, the world’s second-largest producer of refined copper, expects “good demand” in 2014 for cathode, a form of refined metal, the company said today in a report on its website.

“The metals markets are continuing to finally realize their upside potential, inspired by improving global demand,” Michael Turek, a senior director at Newedge Group SA in New York, said in an e-mail.

Lead, tin and zinc rose in London, while nickel and aluminum fell.