Copper Set for Longest Slump Since 1996 on China Manufacturing

Feb 03, 2014 2:25 am ET

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Copper fell for a ninth day, the longest losing streak since January 1996, after manufacturing slowed in China, the world’s largest user of base metals. Aluminum traded near a four-year low.

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange slid as much as 0.4 percent to $7,035 a metric ton and was at $7,036 at 3:48 p.m. in Tokyo. The industrial metal, used in wires and pipes, lost 4 percent in January, the most since June, extending a 7.2 percent drop in 2013.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50.5 in January from December’s 51 reading, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Feb. 1. A private factory gauge on Jan. 30 signaled the first contraction in six months in the world’s second-biggest economy. The LMEX Index of six main industrial metals retreated 3.7 percent last month, the worst start to a year since 2010.

“Copper is taking its cue from China’s economic growth, with last week’s rout in emerging markets deepening demand concern,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, the general manager of research at Nihon Unicom Inc. in Tokyo.

Central bank rate increases in Turkey, India and South Africa last week failed to contain last month’s 3 percent selloff in emerging-market currencies.

The contract for March delivery declined 0.2 percent to $3.1905 a pound on the Comex in New York. Copper for delivery in April on the Shanghai Futures Exchange dropped 0.2 percent to close at 50,950 yuan ($8,409) a ton on Jan. 30. Markets in China are closed through Feb. 6 for Lunar New Year holidays.

Aluminum in London fell 0.1 percent to $1,704 a ton after touching $1,698.25 on Jan. 31, the lowest level since July 2009.

On the LME, zinc, lead and nickel also declined, while tin hadn’t traded.

--With assistance from Heesu Lee in Seoul. Editors: Sungwoo Park, Thomas Kutty Abraham