Metals: Copper Edges Lower on Inventory Rise, Trade Anxiety

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Copper prices inched lower Monday, as traders weighed an increase in London Metal Exchange inventories and trade discussions between the U.S. and China.

Copper for July delivery declined 0.3% to $3.1025 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have fallen about 6% this year after hitting a roughly four-year high in late December, hurt by unease over an anticipated economic slowdown in China, the world’s largest copper consumer, and data showing steady supplies.

London Metal Exchange inventories data signaled a 3.8% rise early Monday, coming off lows not seen since late January, said Alastair Munro, a broker at Marex Spectron, in a note to clients.

Investors have also been closely monitoring the latest trade developments, as copper is seen as a barometer of global economic growth and some analysts worry that protectionist trade policies will hurt demand. The U.S. trade representative’s office will hold three days of hearings from Tuesday on proposed tariffs on Chinese manufacturing.

Despite copper’s slow start to the year, some analysts think the metal can rise if economic data picks up and mining labor contract renegotiations disrupt global supplies around the world.

Monday’s drop came even though a weaker dollar was supporting commodities by making them cheaper for overseas buyers. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, declined 0.2%.

Among precious metals, gold for June delivery swung between small gains and losses and was recently down less than 0.1% at $1,320.60 a troy ounce, continuing a monthslong pattern of rangebound trading between about $1,305 and $1,360.

Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com and Amrith Ramkumar at amrith.ramkumar@wsj.com


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