Copper climbs amid mine-supply concern, falling stockpiles

Trading at $7,352.25 a metric ton in London

Copper was set for a weekly gain amid concerns that an accident at the world’s second-biggest mine may curb supply as the U.S. economy shows signs of a recovery.

Metal for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange climbed as much as 0.7 percent to $7,352.25 a metric ton and was at $7,347.50 at 11:16 a.m. in Seoul. The price is up 0.6 percent this week. Futures for delivery in July on the Comex 0.2 percent to $3.3095 a pound.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. can supply customers for a “number of days” after a fatal tunnel collapse at its Grasberg project in Indonesia, Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson said yesterday. It’s too early to say how long a probe into the accident, which killed 28, will take, he said.

“Copper has a couple of bullish pictures,” said Hwang Il Doo, a senior metals trader at Seoul-based Korea Exchange Bank Futures Co. “The Grasberg mine was halted while inventories are falling. Good macro data coming out of the U.S. are encouraging, even though China’s are disappointing.”

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, and consumer confidence approached a five-year high in the world’s biggest economy. Sales of new U.S. homes climbed in April to the second-highest level in almost five years. The U.S. is the world’s second-biggest user of copper.

Refined-copper inventories at warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell for a seventh week to 190,330 tons as of May 16, the lowest level since October, data showed from 15 warehouses in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.

The metal for September delivery gained 0.9 percent to 52,830 yuan a ton in Shanghai. On the LME, aluminum and zinc also increased.

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