Copper prices ended lower on Thursday as weaker housing market data from China and the US fanned worries about metal demand from the world’s number one and two copper users.
The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, fell 4.95 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to settle at $3.0940 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Copper prices have been under pressure throughout 2014 as concerns about a slowdown in China’s economy weighed on investor interest in the metal.
China accounts for about 40 per cent of global copper demand, and the metal’s widespread use in manufacturing and construction makes its price sensitive to shifts in economic outlook.
On Thursday, copper futures fell after data showed that prices of new homes in 70 Chinese cities fell 1.1 per cent in August, the fourth straight monthly decline.
The drop in home prices had accelerated last month, as home values fell just 0.89 per cent in July and 0.47 per cent in June.
“That’s not something that stimulus could turn around very quickly,” said Frank Lesh, broker and futures analyst with FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago.
US housing starts fell 14.4 per cent in August from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 956,000 units, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
The US is second behind China in the global ranks of copper consumption.
“This crummy housing data does not speak well for demand going forward,” Mr Lesh added.
A stronger dollar also kept copper prices under pressure.
The ICE Dollar Index rallied to a four-year high of 84.79 on Thursday after the Federal Reserve, on Wednesday, laid out plans to normalise US monetary policy and said interest rates are likely to begin climbing next year.