Copper Caps Longest Slump Since March as China’s Imports Drop

Jun 09, 2014 1:57 pm ET

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Copper fell for a fifth session in New York, the longest slump in more than three months, as demand concerns mounted amid slumping imports of the metal into China, the world’s biggest user.

Unwrought-copper shipments fell 16 percent in May from April, while ore and concentrate imports were the lowest in almost a year, customs data showed yesterday. Money managers cut bullish bets by the most in a month, and copper is the only “net short” industrial metal on the London Metal Exchange, according to Marex Spectron Group.

“Declining imports show China’s demand for copper is slowing,” Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “There’s going to be continued oversupply.”

Copper futures for delivery in July lost 0.2 percent to settle at $3.0435 a pound at 1:14 p.m. on the Comex in New York after dropping to $3.0185, the lowest since May 7. The last time prices fell for at least five straight sessions was in the period ended March 3.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months slid 0.3 percent to $6,670 a metric ton ($3.03 a pound).

Fund managers’ net-long position fell 24 percent to a four- week low, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed.

Orders to remove the metal from warehouses tracked by the LME fell 0.7 percent to 69,600 tons, the lowest since May 22.

Copper also declined on concern that a warehousing probe at the Chinese port of Qingdao will dent use of the metal in obtaining credit. Officials are looking at whether supplies used as loan collateral were counted more than once, three people with direct knowledge of the inquiry said last week.

Aluminum for delivery in three months climbed 1.7 percent to $1,911 a ton, after reaching $1,918, the highest since Aug. 22. The increase follows a fourth straight weekly gain, the longest rally since October.

Zinc, lead and tin also rose in London. Tin erased losses as miners in Indonesia’s main producing area rallied to protest police raids. Indonesia is the largest tin exporter.