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Copper futures fall to 1-week low on China slowdown fears

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Shutterstock photo - Copper futures fell to a one-week low during European morning hours on Monday, amid concerns over the economic health of China, the world's largest consumer of the industrial metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for May delivery traded at USD3.485 a pound during European morning trade, down 0.7% on the day.

New York-traded copper prices fell by as much as 0.8% earlier in the day to hit a session low of USD3.481 a pound, the weakest level since March 1.

Concerns over a possible slowdown in the world's second-largest economy weighed on appetite for growth-linked assets after data over the weekend showed that inflation in China hit a 10-month high in February, while industrial output rose at the slowest level since October 2009.

Official data showed that consumer prices in China rose to a 10-month high of 3.2% in February from a year earlier, above expectations for a 3% increase and accelerating sharply from a 2% rate of increase in January.

The faster-than-expected increase in the rate of inflation was likely to dampen hopes that Beijing will introduce fresh easing measures in the near-term to boost economic growth.

A separate report showed that industrial production rose 9.9% in February, less than the expected 10.5% increase and following a 10.3% rise the previous month.

China is the world's largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

Ongoing fears over the deteriorating economic health of Italy also weighed after ratings agency Fitch Ratings cut Italy's sovereign credit rating to BBB+ from A- on Friday, citing the inconclusive outcome of last month's parliamentary elections and a deeper recession.

Copper prices remained support after the Department of Labor said Friday the U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs last month, blowing past expectations for an increase of 160,000.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 7.7%, the lowest level since December 2008, from 7.9% in January.

Elsewhere on the Comex, gold for April delivery added 0.1% to trade at USD1,578.80 a troy ounce, while silver for May delivery dipped 0.3% to trade at USD28.86 a troy ounce. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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