Copper Declines in London as Freeport Exports May Swell Glut

  • Indonesia approves renewal of export license from Grasberg
  • Other industrial metals gain as U.S. equities increase

Copper posted the biggest two-day drop since September on concern that exports from Freeport-McMoRan Inc.’s Indonesian mine, the world’s second-largest for the commodity, will add to an oversupplied market.

Indonesia approved the renewal of an export license that will allow Freeport to ship about 1 million metric tons through Aug. 8, according to a trade ministry official. Copper was down a fourth day on the London Metal Exchange, set for the longest run in almost a month.

The metal has dropped more than 20 percent in the past year as China’s economic slowdown cut demand, prompting some mining companies to shutter unprofitable production. New supply due this year will largely offset the impact of supply cuts, Morgan Stanley said in a report Tuesday. It expects mine output to expand about 3 percent this year to 19.9 million metric tons.

“News that Freeport-McMoRan is set to resume shipping from its Grasberg mine in Indonesia acted as a dampener on copper prices,” Sucden Financial said in an e-mailed report. “The ramping up of operations at world’s second-largest mine by capacity will likely add to the supply glut.”

Copper for delivery in three months lost 1.4 percent to settle at $4,444 a ton at 5:51 p.m. on the LME. Prices dropped 3.6 percent in two days. Markets in mainland China, the world’s biggest consumer, remain closed for the New Year holidays.

  • Other metals traded in London gained as U.S. equities rose for the first time in four days, brightening the economic outlook. Tin and zinc climbed, while aluminum, nickel and lead fell.

  • The Bloomberg World Mining Index slid 0.8 percent, and headed for the biggest two-day loss in three weeks.
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