Copper prices fell to the lowest level seen in well over a year last month as continuing surplus conditions were further weakened by lower expectations for global industrial growth and a sell-off in commodities led by gold.
Copper for April delivery, the front-month contract, settled as low as at $3.082 a pound on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Comex, falling into "bear" investment territory, defined as a drop of 20% from the recent high of $3.9785 a pound in Feb. 2012.
The index of sentiment among purchasing managers in China slid further in April to 50.6, showing a slowdown in manufacturing growth in the world’s largest copper-consuming country, and the April PMI for U.S. manufacturers was only slightly better at 50.7, down from 51.3 in March.
The International Copper Study Group said copper supply exceeded demand by 70,000 metric tons in January. The ICSG forecast that global copper consumption fell by 6% in January from a year earlier, with Chinese demand down 6.8%.