Copper Climbs on Growth Hopes

Beckett Bronze produces cast bronze precision-machined parts and continuous cast bars. Castings are manufactured at the East 20th Street plant. The West 23rd Street plant produces finished machined parts and has about 75 machine tools including CNC lathes.


Copper prices rose Tuesday, with traders interpreting a softer Monday stance from the U.S. Treasury on Russia’s United Co. Rusal 0486 43.42% as a positive for global trade.

Copper for May delivery added 1.2% to $3.1470 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have risen about 6% from their year-to-date lows in March, though they remain down on the year, with analysts noting that the global trade backdrop and economic data from China now look more favorable.

Some analysts have worried that protectionist trade policies could lead to higher manufacturing costs and slower global economic growth and lower demand for raw materials. But some expect the U.S. and China to negotiate a compromise over trade policy, and interpreted the U.S. Treasury’s Monday statement suggesting it might relieve sanctions against Rusal as another positive for the global economy.

Treasury also extended the deadline for investors dealing with Rusal to late October, leading some analysts to think the impact on metals markets and input costs for manufacturers could be muted. Although that could lead to lower prices of aluminum in the short term, some think the news could support other industrial metals.

“This is a broad positive for metals prices,” said Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics. “Economic protectionism is negative for economic growth and metals demand,” she added.

Data Tuesday also showed copper imports in China, the world’s largest copper consumer, rose nearly 6% in March from a year earlier. Some analysts remain worried that lukewarm consumption from China and a lack of supply disruptions could hurt copper prices.

Still, prices could post a fifth consecutive week of gains this week, with some investors expecting continued global economic strength to benefit the demand picture.

“Strong refined copper demand due to macroeconomic tailwinds in the U.S. and Europe may help to provide some support for copper in the near term,” Sucden Financial analysts said in a quarterly report published Tuesday.

Aluminum for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange tumbled 3.4% to $2,218 a metric ton, extending Monday’s losses. Some analysts no longer expect Treasury’s actions against Rusal to disrupt global supply, after the initial sanctions announcement sparked a furious price rally that is now being retraced.

Nickel and palladium have also been volatile because of Rusal’s ties to Norilsk Nickel Mining & Metallurgical Co., a major producer of the metals. On Tuesday, nickel edged up 0.4% on the LME after also posting steep Monday losses, and the most-actively traded palladium futures in New York dropped 1.9%.

Among precious metals, gold for June delivery edged up 0.3% to $1,328.20 a troy ounce and was on track to end a three-session losing streak. A stable dollar has made gold more expensive for overseas buyers recently, while the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note approaching 3% has stoked investors’ worries about higher interest rates, which tend to make gold less attractive relative to Treasurys.

Write to Christopher Alessi at christopher.alessi@wsj.com and Amrith Ramkumar at amrith.ramkumar@wsj.com


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