Copper Jumps Most Since 2013 as Strike Combines With China Boost

  • BHP declares force majeure at Escondida mine, sources say
  • Production-deficit concerns helping boost copper: TD’s Melek

Copper posted the biggest gain in almost four years, leading a surge in metals, as exports from China jumped and BHP Billiton Ltd. signaled a halt in shipments from the world’s largest copper mine. Silver neared the longest string of weekly gains since 2011 and mining stocks rose.

Overseas shipments from China, the top industrial-metals user, rebounded in January with exports to the U.S. rising, according to customs data. BHP declared force majeure on shipments from the Escondida mine in Chile after workers began a strike Thursday, two customers notified by the company said.

An index of the six main metals traded in London is off to its best start to a year since 2012, helped by bets on improving global economic growth and mounting supply concerns for some metals. Signs of easing trade tensions between the U.S. and China also helped boost metals on Friday.

“We continue to see concerns about the deficit in the copper market,” Bart Melek, head of global commodity strategy at TD Securities in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “We could have a significant deficit if this strike continues for a while.”

Copper for delivery in three months climbed 4.6 percent to settle at $6,090 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. That’s the biggest gain since May 2013. Aluminum, lead, nickel, tin and zinc also advanced on the LME.

An index of 18 base-metal producers climbed as much as 3.4 percent, with shares of Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Rio Tinto Plc among the biggest increases.

Spot silver headed for a seventh straight weekly gain, the longest rally since March 2011.

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