Copper Rises, Remains Near 44-Month Lows


Copper rose on Monday as low prices after a sharp drop last week attracted some buying, but it was still not far from Wednesday's 44-month low because of persisting concerns about top consumer China's growth outlook and credit problems.

Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was at $6,507 a tonne at 1101 GMT, up 0.6 percent from a last bid of $6,468.50 Friday, when it gained 0.8 percent.

It earlier dropped to an intraday low of $6,410 a tonne, not far from the low of $6,376.25 hit on Wednesday.

The market remained on edge after China's first bond default last week sparked fears financiers in the country could dump the metal, being used as collateral for loans.

Bargain-hunting from industrial consumers prevented further price weakness, analysts said.

Concerns that the pace of growth could slow in the world's second-largest economy, which consumes about 40 percent of its copper, have put pressure on the metal used in power and construction.

Copper posted its biggest weekly drop in 11 months last week and is down close to 12 percent so far this year.

"We've seen evidence of consumer buying at the end of last week, and I think there's support around the $6,500 level where we are now, given the dramatic fall last week," said Vicky Sanders, head of analytics sales at Marex Spectron.

"We could be seeing a bit of a floor here."

In a development that supported prices, Beijing announced plans to speed the pace of urbanisation. The government outlined infrastructure investment plans aimed at raising the proportion of the population living in cities to 60 percent by 2020 from 53.7 percent now.

There were also some signs of improving domestic Chinese demand, with local prices for physical metal trading at a premium to front-month ShFE futures prices, compared with a discount for the past month.

But appetite did not yet extend to global copper inventories. Premiums for copper held in Shanghai bonded warehouses slipped by $5 from Friday to $120-$140 a tonne, according to China price provider Shmet. (

Beijing is expected to act if growth slows below its targets.

"Due to the poor economic performance in January-March, the GDP growth rate for the first quarter might be not able to meet the government's requirements, and we might see policies that act as support for prices in future," analyst Chunlan Li at consultancy CRU in Beijing said.

Political tensions were in the spotlight as Crimea formally applied to join Russia on Monday after its leaders declared a Soviet-style 97 percent vote in favour of quitting Ukraine.

European stocks edged up after Sunday's Crimea referendum passed without violence and as anticipated sanctions had yet to materialise.

Elsewhere, U.S speculators added to their bearish view on copper. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission's Commitments of Traders report in the week to March 11 showed speculators increased net short positions in copper.