Copper Caps Longest Fall Since 1995 on China Industry Use

Copper fell for a ninth session in New York, the longest slump in 18 years, after a report showed manufacturing slowed last month in China, the world’s biggest metal user. Aluminum touched the lowest since 2009.

A Purchasing Managers’ Index slid to 50.5 in January from 51 in December, China’s statistics bureau and logistics federation said on Feb. 1, nearing the level of 50 that divides growth and shrinkage. A private factory gauge on Jan. 30 signaled the first contraction in six months. Chinese markets are closed through Feb. 6 for Lunar New Year celebrations.

“Chinese PMIs in the past week show the economy might be slowing down,” Richard Fu, director for Asian commodity trading at Newedge Group SA in London, said in a note.

Copper futures for delivery in March fell 0.4 percent to settle at $3.1835 a pound at 1:21 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $3.182, the lowest for a most-active contract since Dec. 4. Prices are down 5 percent since Jan. 21, the longest slump since December 1995. On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months lost 0.4 percent to $7,038 a metric ton ($3.19 a pound).

“The copper market will drift down, based on the lack of interest due to the Chinese New Year,” Malcolm Freeman, the director of Kingdom Futures Ltd. in West Malling, England, said by e-mail today.

Production of refined copper will exceed demand by 385,000 tons this year, and prices will “grind lower” as supply growth outpaces gains in usage, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Aluminum for delivery in three months touched $1,671.25 a ton, the lowest since July 2009, in London. Zinc, lead and nickel slid, while tin gained.