Copper Slides on Surprise Economic Decline in South Korea

Beckett Bronze Company was incorporated May 21, 1913 as the Delaware Brass and Aluminum Company by a group of stockholders which included John Beckett, a molder, and his son, Charles. Charles Beckett eventually bought out the other stockholders, including his father, and managed the company until his death in 1960.

Prices of copper fell Thursday, dragged down by data showing South Korea’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter.

Copper for May delivery, the most active futures contract, fell 1.7% to $2.8615 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have fallen since hitting a nine-month high earlier this month, though they remain up about 9% for the year.

Optimism about a U.S.-China trade agreement and an uptick in global economic activity sparked copper’s early-year rebound, but some analysts remain wary that a growth slowdown could lower demand for materials crucial to manufacturing and construction.

Figures on Thursday showed South Korea’s export-oriented economy contracted in the first quarter after a growth spurt in the prior three months, damping hopes for the government to achieve its annual growth target.

Investors were looking ahead to upcoming trade talks between the U.S. and China, with some hopeful an agreement between the world’s two largest economies will boost the outlook for global growth and commodity consumption.

A stronger dollar was also hurting metals Thursday by making them more expensive for overseas buyers. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, was up less than 0.1% and at its highest level in five months.

Elsewhere in base metals Thursday, aluminum for delivery in three months fell 0.8% to $1,857 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. Zinc dropped less than 0.1% to $2,741, tin added 0.6% to $19,820, nickel shed 0.7% to $12,325 and lead advanced 0.4% at $1,932.

Among precious metals Thursday, the most-active Comex gold futures for June delivery inched up less than 0.1% to $1,279.70 a troy ounce. Silver fell 0.2% to $14.96, platinum advanced 0.1% to $889.70 and palladium added 0.1% to $1,406.90.

Write to Amrith Ramkumar at

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