Copper Little Changed as Investors Await Signal on China Demand

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Copper futures settled little changed as investors assessed the outlook for demand amid conflicting economic signals from China, the world’s biggest user.

While data this week showed China’s gross domestic product climbed faster than forecast last quarter, it was underpinned by a surge in financial-sector growth that may not be sustainable with stocks faltering. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. expects further declines for copper, down 11 percent this year. Barclays Plc said prices will be supported by Chinese stimulus and spending on power grids and cable production.

“I would cast it as metals biding their time, because that’s what they’re doing: waiting for some big signal,” Vivienne Lloyd, a base-metals analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London, said in a telephone interview. “Fundamentally, it’s a soft metals market and been hit pretty hard, and there could be a rebound after touching extremely low levels.”

Copper futures for September delivery rose 0.1 percent to close at $2.523 a pound at 1:16 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices swung between gains of as much as 0.9 percent and losses of 0.6 percent. Aggregate trading was 28 percent below the 100-day average for this time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The metal dropped to a six-year low on July 8 as a rout in Chinese stocks heightened concern that demand will stall in the Asian nation.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months gained 0.5 percent to $5,560 a metric ton ($2.52 a pound). Tin and nickel were also higher, while aluminum, zinc and lead fell.