Copper Tumbles to Three-Week Low as Industrial Metals Decline

Copper Tumbles to Three-Week Low as Industrial Metals Decline



Copper dropped to the lowest level in more than three weeks after Europe postponed a decision on a second Greek bailout, spurring concern the nation may default. Aluminum, zinc and lead fell.

Three-month copper retreated as much as 1.6 percent to $8,233 a metric ton, the lowest price since Jan. 23 on the London Metal Exchange, and traded at $8,267.75 by 3:55 p.m. Shanghai time. The contract retreated for a fifth day and was poised for the longest losing run since November. May-delivery on the Comex lost 1.1 percent to $3.7665 a pound.

Concern Greece will miss a debt payment next month grew as a decision on 130 billion euros ($171 billion) of aid was postponed until at least Feb. 20 and possibly until a full-time Greek government emerges from elections later this year.

“Copper is suffering a double whammy from the delay of an effective resolution in Europe and weak Chinese demand,” said Li Ye, an analyst at Shanghai Jiuheng Futures Co. The metal gained 9.5 percent in January, ending a two-month decline.

World copper production exceeded demand by 69,100 tons last year, compared with a shortage of 175,000 tons in 2010, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said yesterday. The May- delivery contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed 2 percent lower at 59,210 yuan ($9,395) a ton.

Peru’s largest copper producers, including Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., Southern Copper Corp. and Xstrata Plc, face the risk of blackouts next year because of power line delays in the southern Andes, Mark Hoffmann, vice president at the National Society of Mining, Petroleum & Energy, said in an interview in Lima.

On the LME, aluminum fell 1.1 percent to $2,175 a ton, zinc dropped 0.9 percent to $1,993.50 a ton and lead lost 1.4 percent to $2,032.75 a ton. Nickel declined 0.7 percent to $19,945 a ton and tin retreated 0.8 percent to $24,400 a ton.

Feb 16, 2012 3:09 AM ET