Copper fell to a four-week low in New York as China, the world’s biggest consumer, moved to cool property purchases and as inventories expanded.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for local authorities to “decisively” curb real-estate speculation. Cities that have witnessed “excessively fast” price gains should promptly impose home-purchase restrictions, the central government said in a statement. Stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange reached the highest since November 2011.
“China is going to take steps to cool their housing market, and there’s nothing promoting growth at this point,” Harry Denny, a broker at Hoboken, New Jersey-based PVM Futures Inc., said in a telephone interview. “The market is going to continue to be under pressure unless we start to see depletion of the warehouse stocks.”
Copper futures for May delivery declined 1 percent to $3.631 a pound at 10:37 a.m. on the Comex in New York. The metal earlier touched $3.6275, the lowest since Jan. 17.
The construction industry accounts for about 9.4 percent of China’s demand for the metal, according to data from Bloomberg Industries.
LME-monitored inventories climbed for a fifth session to 412,950 metric tons on deliveries in Johor, Malaysia, daily exchange figures showed. Orders to withdraw the metal are at the lowest since July.
Signs of a continued housing recovery in the U.S., the second-biggest copper user, helped limit price declines. Builders broke ground in January on the most single-family homes in more than four years, and permits for future construction rose, a government report showed.
On the LME, copper for delivery in three months slumped 0.9 percent to $7,976.75 a metric ton ($3.62 a pound).
Nickel, aluminum, tin and zinc also fell in London, while lead was little changed.
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