Copper Rises in London as U.S. Home Sales Signal Stronger Demand

Aug 21, 2014 1:45 pm ET

Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Copper gained for a second day in London on speculation that rising home sales signal improving demand in the U.S., the world’s top metals user after China.

Existing home sales last month climbed 2.4 percent from June to a 5.15 million annual pace, the most since September, the National Association of Realtors reported today. The median forecast of 74 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for 5.02 million. Builders are the biggest users of copper and use about 400 pounds in the average home.

“We have seen the copper market improve based on recent housing numbers,” Phil Streible, a senior commodity strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “You’re going to see demand for copper going up.”

Copper for delivery in three months added 0.1 percent to settle at $7,015 a metric ton ($3.18 a pound) at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, after rising as much as 0.5 percent. Prices earlier fell as much as 0.5 percent after a private manufacturing gauge in China trailed economists’ estimates.

Chinese scrap copper imports climbed 38 percent to 360,000 metric tons in July, from a month earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs show. Refined imports of the metal slid 4 percent to 244,959 tons, the lowest since May 2013.

Zinc rose on the LME, while lead, nickel, tin and aluminum slid.

On the Comex in New York, copper futures for December delivery slid 0.1 percent $3.195 a pound.

--With assistance from Alex Davis in Hong Kong and Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London.