Copper Pares Weekly Drop on China Demand, Concern About Supply

Dec 20, 2013 2:41 am ET

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Copper climbed for the first time in four days, leading gains in other industrial metals, as demand from China, the biggest user, is expected to gain while supplies from Indonesia and the Philippines may decline.

The contract for delivery in three months gained 0.7 percent to $7,250 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange by 3:58 p.m. in Seoul. The gain trimmed the week’s loss to 0.1 percent, set for the first weekly decline in three, as the U.S. Federal Reserve is cutting its monthly bond purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion. Prices fell 8.7 percent this year.

China’s copper imports rose 19 percent last month as a trade surplus widened to the biggest in more than four years, signaling a sustained economic recovery. Stockpiles monitored by the LME fell to the lowest since February. Indonesia, the biggest producer of mined nickel, also produces copper and is set to start an export ban on mineral ores next month.

“We see some signs of a recovery in Chinese demand,” said Will Yun, commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures Co. in Seoul. “At the same time, the supply concerns are being re-emerged as the fear over the Fed stimulus cuts is subsiding.”

PT Freeport Indonesia said Dec. 6 it would have to cut mine output to about 40 percent of maximum capacity if the ban is fully imposed. Glencore Xstrata Plc said Nov. 11 it might take at least four to six weeks for its Pasar smelter in the Philippines to return to normal operations after typhoon damage.

Futures for delivery in March rose 0.4 percent to $3.31 a pound on the Comex in New York. The contract for March delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 0.7 percent to close at 51,380 yuan ($8,462) a ton, up 0.4 percent this week. That’s a fifth weekly advance.

On the LME, tin gained 0.6 percent and lead climbed 0.5 percent. Aluminum, zinc and nickel also increased.

--Editors: Jarrett Banks, Thomas Kutty Abraham