Copper Prices Drop for Second Day as China Raises Interest Rates

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Copper fell for a second day on bets that demand will decline after China, the world’s biggest consumer, raised borrowing costs.
China lifted interest rates for the third time since mid- October before a report forecast to show that inflation expanded at the fastest pace in 30 months. In January, Chinese imports were likely “flat or significantly weaker than in December,” Citigroup Inc. said. Before today, the metal surged 60 percent in the past year amid rising demand.
The rate increase “is a welcome reminder that although the medium-term global-demand outlook remains constructive, measures need to be taken to prevent overheating in China,” said Daniel Major, an analyst at RBS Global Banking & Markets in London. “This has potential to cap further upside for industrial metals in 2011.”
Copper futures for March delivery slid 1.1 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $4.564 a pound at 10:42 a.m. on the Comex in New York. Yesterday, the price reached an all-time high of $4.6375 before erasing gains.
“The Chinese rate hike will impact demand for copper,” Adam Klopfenstein, a senior strategist at Lind-Waldock, a broker in Chicago.
In December, imports into China declined 2 percent from a month earlier, customs data showed. Inventories tallied by the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 3.9 percent last week to the highest since June.
China’s financial markets open tomorrow after the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for three-month delivery fell $45, or 0.4 percent, to $10,045 a metric ton ($4.54 a pound). Yesterday, the metal climbed to a record $10,160.
Lead and nickel also declined in London. Zinc and tin were little changed, while aluminum rose
 

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