Copper Drops as Economic Growth Slows in Leading Consumer China

Copper fell in London after economic growth slowed in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the metal. Nickel slumped the most in four months.

Gross domestic product expanded 7.7 percent from a year earlier in 2013’s final quarter, China’s statistics bureau said today, against 7.8 percent in the previous period. Industrial output weakened last month from November, separate data showed. China’s economic growth will decelerate to 7.4 percent this year, according to a Bloomberg survey last month.

“The base metals have made a fairly subdued start to the week, digesting the Chinese data,” Leon Westgate, an analyst at Standard Bank Plc in London, said in a report today.

Copper for delivery in three months dropped 0.4 percent to $7,314 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. Copper for delivery in March dropped 0.2 percent to $3.3375 a pound on the Comex in New York.

China’s seven-day repurchase rate, a gauge of interbank funding availability, jumped the most in seven months as demand for cash climbed before national holidays starting Jan. 31.

Copper stockpiles in warehouses monitored by the LME fell 0.4 percent to 334,550 tons, the lowest in a year, daily data showed. Orders to take the metal from warehouses dropped 0.7 percent to 190,900 tons, the lowest since May 9.

Copper for immediate delivery settled at a premium of $45 a ton to the contract for delivery in three months, the widest backwardation since May 2012. The fee to borrow copper for one day jumped to $12 a ton on the LME.

Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators cut their net-long position in Comex copper to 25,664 futures and options contracts in the week ended Jan. 14, according to U.S. government data. That “still represents a high level, historically speaking,” Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said by e-mail.

Nickel for delivery in three months on the LME dropped 1 percent to $14,550 a ton after slumping as much as 2.6 percent, the most since Sept. 20. Prices gained 6 percent last week, the most since Feb. 1, as Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of mined nickel, banned exports of unprocessed ores.

Aluminum, tin, zinc and lead declined in London.

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