Copper Caps Weekly Gain as U.S. Housing Data Signals Demand

Aug 22, 2014 2:19 pm ET

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Copper capped its first weekly advance in a month on speculation that demand will increase after stronger-than-expected housing data in the U.S., the world’s second-largest consumer of the metal.

Beginning home construction jumped to an eight-month high in July, while sales of existing dwellings climbed to the highest since September, reports showed this week. The Copper Development Association estimates that the average single-family home uses 439 pounds (199 kilograms) of the metal, needed for wires and plumbing.

“The better-than-expected numbers acted as a catalyst to spur prices higher,” Graham Leighton, a trader at Marex Spectron Group in New York, said in a telephone interview.

Copper futures for delivery in December rose 0.9 percent to settle at $3.223 a pound at 1:14 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $3.2295, the highest for a most active contract since Aug. 11. Prices gained 3.2 percent this week.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months climbed 0.9 percent to $7,076 a metric ton ($3.21 a pound). The bourse will be shut Aug. 25 for a national holiday.

The housing reports added to signs of improving U.S. growth. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, speaking today in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said that while the economy has made “considerable progress” in recovering from jobs lost during the recession, slack remains in the labor market.

Copper prices also advanced this week as a Chinese manufacturing gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics signaled a third month of growth in August. The nation is the biggest metals consumer.

Aluminum and lead rose in London. Zinc, tin and nickel fell.

--With assistance from Alex Davis in Hong Kong.