Copper Caps Worst Year Since 2011 as China’s Economy Cools

Copper Caps Worst Year Since 2011 as China’s Economy Cools
By Agnieszka de Sousa and Joe Deaux – Dec 31, 2014, 1:34:50 PM

Copper capped the biggest annual loss in three years in London amid signs of an economic slowdown in China, the world’s largest metals consumer.

The final reading this month for the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for China from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics came in at 49.6, the lowest in seven months. A figure below 50 signifies contraction. China is on course for the slowest year of economic growth since 1990, according to a Bloomberg survey. Copper dropped 14 percent this year amid prospects for fading demand from the Asian nation.

“The biggest stumbling block is you have China certainly slowing down,” Tai Wong, the director of commodity products trading at BMO Capital Markets Corp. in New York, said in a telephone interview. “If people have trades that they want to put on for the start of 2015, buying copper doesn’t seem to be one of them.”

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.4 percent to settle at $6,300 a metric ton ($2.86 a pound) at 2:50 p.m. The drop this year was the biggest drop since a 21 percent loss in 2011.

The global copper market is poised to swing to a surplus of 139,000 tons next year from an estimated 128,000-ton deficit this year on more output from mines, according to RBC Capital Markets. Slowing demand in China could push the market into a bigger surplus in 2015, RBC analyst Fraser Phillips said in a report last week.

Copper stockpiles tracked by the LME rose 2.8 percent to 177,025 tons, the highest since May, data showed today. Inventories are down 52 percent this year, the biggest decline in a decade.

Aluminum, lead and zinc were also lower in London, while nickel and tin advanced. The LMEX index of six metals fell 7.8 percent this year.

In New York, copper futures for March delivery declined 1 percent to $2.8255 a pound on the Comex, closing down 17 percent for 2014. Trading was 54 percent below the average of the past 100 days for this time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Agnieszka de Sousa in London at atroszkiewic@bloomberg.net; Joe Deaux in New York at jdeaux@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Millie Munshi at mmunshi@bloomberg.net Joe Richter

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Greenspan Throws a Wet Blanket on Hopes for Growth Breakout

Just when you thought the U.S. economy was roaring back to health, Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is here to tell you otherwise.

“The United States is doing better than anybody else, but we’re still not doing all that well,” Greenspan, 88, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu. “We still have a very sluggish economy.”

Greenspan said the economy won’t fully recover until American companies invest more in productive assets and the housing market bounces back.

“Almost all of the weakness in the last four, five, six years has been in long-lived investments” in capital goods and real estate, Greenspan said. “Until these pick up, we’re not going to get the kind of vibrant growth that everyone is hoping for.”

Greenspan, who retired from the Fed’s helm in January 2006, said he expects growth to dip below a 3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of this year. His forecast is in line with the estimate of 2.5 percent in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

He spoke a week after revised figures showed gross domestic product expanded at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter, the fastest pace since 2003. The data helped drive the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 18,000 for the first time.

A report today showed that consumer confidence rose in December as Americans embraced more employment opportunities and persistent declines in prices at the gas pump. The Conference Board’s index increased to 92.6 from a revised 91 in November that was stronger than initially estimated. A measure of current conditions advanced to the highest in almost seven years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Condon in Washington at ccondon4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net Mark Rohner