July 24 (Bloomberg) -- Copper futures rose the most in three weeks as a gauge of manufacturing climbed to an 18-month high in China, the world’s top consumer of industrial metals.
China’s factory measure from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed a preliminary July reading of 52, compared with the 51 median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. A level above 50 indicates expansion. Copper inventories monitored by the London Metal Exchange extended a slump to the lowest since August 2008.
“Every time we see a strong number out of China, the copper market responds to it,” Tom Power, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “I think the rally will continue for some time.”
Copper futures for September delivery climbed 1.9 percent to settle at $3.2665 a pound at 1:14 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since July 2. Trading was 24 percent above the 100-day average for this time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg..
On the LME, copper for delivery in three months rose 1.8 percent to $7,169.50 a metric ton ($3.25 a pound). Inventories fell 1.2 percent to 154,350 tons. They have tumbled 58 percent this year.
Zinc for three-month delivery advanced 1 percent to $2,388 a ton. Earlier, the price reached $2,394, the highest since Aug. 4, 2011. Nickel, aluminum, lead and tin also gained in London.
--With assistance from Jae Hur in Tokyo and Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London.