Copper futures fell on Tuesday as investors weighed better economic data from China against the International Monetary Fund's decision to lower its global growth forecast for 2015.

he most actively traded contract, for March delivery, fell 2.3 cents, or 0.9 per cent, to settle at $US2.5940 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

China’s economic expansion slowed to a pace of 7.4 per cent in 2014, narrowly missing Beijing’s 7.5 per cent target and notching the slowest growth in a quarter century.

Still, the National Bureau of Statistics said the growth rate was within range.

While the news was generally seen as favourable, US copper prices remained in negative territory as traders here caught up, having missed out on Monday’s trading due to a national holiday.

“The China number was better-than-expected, but not exactly great, but this always happens when you have a day when the US trading is closed and the rest of the world keeps going,” said Bill O’Neill, co-founder of LOGIC Advisors LLC, a commodities investment company in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

China is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for about 40 per cent of global demand for the industrial metal.

Many investors have worried that slowing economic growth would damp China’s appetite for copper. Most of China’s copper imports head to factories that turn the metal into electrical wires, transmission cables, plumbing or electronic components to be used in other manufactured goods or construction.