Copper Gains as Economic Growth May Lift Industrial Metal Demand

Dec 26, 2013 5:22 pm ET

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Copper futures climbed in New York after U.S. jobless claims added to signs of strengthening economic growth, boosting demand for the metal used in electrical wiring and pipes.

Initial jobless claims dropped to 338,000 in the week ended Dec. 21, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 345,000. Copper and shares of metals companies such as Alcoa Inc., the biggest U.S. aluminum producer, rallied on Dec. 24 after durable-goods orders gained more than forecast. Copper inventories in warehouses monitored by the Comex fell 77 percent this year.

“Rapidly falling copper inventories and rising aluminum stock prices tell a story of global economic strength,” economist Dennis Gartman wrote in his daily newsletter today.

Copper futures for March delivery rose 0.7 percent to close at $3.3985 a pound at 1:08 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the highest settlement since April 11. The metal advanced 6 percent this month, on track for the best monthly performance since September 2012.

CME Group Inc., parent of the Comex, said on Dec. 24 it changed some copper trades following an error after prices jumped to an eight-month high.

Japanese housing starts jumped 14 percent in November from a year earlier, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Tokyo reported today.

--Editors: Thomas Galatola, Patrick McKiernan