Copper Gets Support From Weaker Dollar

By Katie Riordan

LONDON–Copper prices edged up Wednesday, despite sluggish demand in copper-consuming China, supported by a weaker dollar.

The London Metal Exchange’s three-month copper contract was up 0.7% at $4,809.00 a metric ton in midmorning trade.

“Copper is holding up relatively well considering that sentiment is fairly bearish for base metals,” said William Adams, head of research at Fastmarkets. “At low levels it will bang around, but a weaker dollar will provide some support.”

On Wednesday, the WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of currencies, was down 0.30% in midmorning trade. Copper, which is priced in dollars, becomes cheaper for foreign buyers when the greenback falls.

The dollar fell after data Tuesday showed U.S. nonfarm business productivity decreased at a 0.5% seasonally adjusted annual rate during the second quarter.

Copper prices had slumped to month-long lows earlier this week after economic data from China showed imports of the base metal fell 14% in July to 360,000 tons. China is slated to release further economic figures this week including numbers on industrial production and retail sales.

Taken as a whole, the data could create a copper-positive picture if they indicate economic growth during a summer lull, Mr. Adams said.

“The lacking bullish ingredient [for copper] is lack of demand growth,” he said. “If there’s more demand, there’s potential room for consumers to get more active.”

Other analysts said it will be a challenge for copper to rally as summer winds down and copper supply growth in China continues to outpace demand.

“Copper will still be one of the underperformers in the base metals,” said Xiao Fu, head of commodity markets strategy at BOCI Global Commodities (U.K.) Ltd.

Among other base metals, aluminum was up 0.5% at $1,652.50 a ton, lead was up 1.2% at $1,829.00, zinc was up 1.0% at $2,296.50, nickel was up 0.3% at $10,820.00 and tin was up 0.8% at $18,570.00.

— Ben Leubsdorf contributed to this article.

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