Copper Slumps to 3 Month Low as China Factory Data Show Slowdown

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gold silver reportsCopper slipped to the lowest price in almost three months as industrial metals declined after reports showed manufacturing slowed in China, the world’s biggest user.

The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange fell as much as 0.7 percent to $6,964.25 a metric ton, the lowest intraday level since Dec. 4, and was at $6,966.75 a ton by 11:05 a.m. in Hong Kong. It retreated for a sixth day, extending a second monthly drop.

A gauge of Chinese manufacturing fell in February to an eight-month low of 50.2, a government report showed on March 1, while a private index released today from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics fell to 48.5 this month from 49.5 for January. A number above 50 signals expansion.

The factory data confirmed a slowdown in China’s economy as the government will focus on restructuring instead of gross domestic product growth, said Helen Lau, an analyst at UOB Kay Hian Ltd. in Hong Kong.

China will announce its growth target for this year at this week’s meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. The goal set in 2013 was 7.5 percent. In a Bloomberg News survey, 63 percent of economists predict the same number this year, while 33 percent see either a 7 percent goal or a range, such as 7 percent to 7.5 percent.

Copper for delivery in May retreated 0.5 percent to $3.1715 a pound on the Comex in New York. The metal for delivery in May on the Shanghai Futures Exchange declined 0.9 percent to 48,820 yuan ($7,940) a ton, extending a second monthly drop.

On the LME, zinc fell for the first time in six days after rising 5.1 percent last month. Aluminum, nickel and lead all dropped, while tin hadn’t traded.