March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Copper fell in New York after imports into China, the biggest buyer, tumbled to the lowest in 20 months and as stockpiles of the metal expanded.
Chinese shipments of refined metal, alloy and products were 298,102 metric tons last month, the General Administration of Customs said today. Inventories in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange, Comex and deliverable stockpiles tracked by Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed to 803,128 tons, rising above 800,000 tons for the first time since December 2003.
“There is a lot of metal in China,” Robin Bhar, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in London, said by phone today. “We should see imports slowing this year.”
Copper futures for delivery in May declined 0.2 percent to $3.512 a pound at 7:54 a.m. on the Comex in New York. Prices are up 0.3 percent this week. Futures trading volumes in New York were 27 percent lower than the average in the past 100 days for the time of day. The metal for delivery in three months dropped 0.3 percent to $7,741.75 a ton on the LME.
Refined copper supply will exceed demand by 176,000 tons this year, the most since 2009, according to Credit Suisse Group AG. Imports of refined copper by China will drop 11 percent this year, according to Barclays Plc.
Stockpiles in LME-tracked warehouses climbed 5.9 percent to 509,425 tons, the highest level since April 15, 2010. Inventories, up 59 percent this year, grew on deliveries in Singapore, Gwangyang, South Korea, New Orleans and the Belgian city of Antwerp.
“There is no question we are in a situation where the market is in much more oversupply,” Jim Lennon, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London, said by phone today. “Published stocks have gone higher.”
Declines may be limited on expectations U.S. employers added new jobs in February. A report may show today an additional 165,000 workers were hired last month after a 157,000 increase in January, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Aluminum, nickel, zinc and lead fell in London. Tin rose.
--Editors: Nicholas Larkin, John Deane