Copper Falls With Nickel as China’s Economic Growth Slows

Jan 20, 2014 2:39 am ET

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Copper retreated after China’s economic growth slowed in the final quarter of last year, crimping the demand outlook for industrial metals. Nickel dropped by the most in two weeks.

The copper contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange lost as much as 0.4 percent to $7,310 a metric ton and traded at $7,318 by 4:34 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal rose 0.5 percent last week, the first weekly gain in three. Prices are down 0.5 percent this month.

Gross domestic product in China grew 7.7 percent in the October-December period from a year earlier, data showed today, compared with 7.8 percent the previous quarter. The world’s second-biggest economy may expand 7.4 percent this year, according to an analyst survey last month, the slowest pace since 1990. Industrial output rose 9.7 percent in December from a year earlier, compared with a 10 percent gain in November.

“Today’s data show that China’s growth momentum is clearly weakening,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, the general manager of research at Nihon Unicom Inc. in Tokyo.

Gains in the country’s benchmark money-market rate ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays also weighed sentiment, he said. The seven-day repurchase rate, a gauge of interbank funding availability, jumped by the most in seven months as demand for cash spiked before the the national holidays that start Jan. 31.

The metal for delivery in April closed little changed at 51,800 yuan ($8,560) a ton on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. Copper for delivery in March traded little changed at $3.3415 a pound on the Comex in New York.

Nickel in London fell as much as 2 percent, the biggest since Jan. 6, to $14,407 a ton and last traded at $14,415. Prices gained 6 percent last week, the most since the period through Feb. 1, as Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of the mined metal, banned unprocessed ore exports.

On the LME, aluminum, zinc and tin also dropped, while lead was little changed.

--Editors: Sungwoo Park, Brett Miller