Copper Caps Longest Rally in 6 Months as Housing Buoys Outlook

Copper futures capped the longest rally in six months as gains in the U.S. housing market eased concern that a slowing broader economy will erode metal demand.

An index of the number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes climbed 1.1 percent in March, after a revised 3.6 percent jump a month earlier that was the biggest since 2010, according to figures on Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors. Copper fell earlier after a report showed first-quarter economic growth almost stalled in the U.S., the biggest metals user after China.

“The housing market in the U.S. is an indicator of health in general,” Tim Evans, the chief market strategist at Long Leaf Trading Group Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “A lot of analysts would look at improving housing to continue on into other sectors of the economy.”

Copper futures for July delivery gained 0.4 percent to settle at $2.799 a pound at 1:20 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices have gained for five straight sessions, the longest rally since Oct. 29.

Sales of existing U.S. homes climbed in March to the highest since September 2013, data from the Realtors group showed last week.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months added 0.4 percent at $6,145 a metric ton ($2.79 a pound). Aluminum, zinc, lead and tin advanced in London, while nickel declined.

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