Copper Prices Hit High on China Housing Data


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Copper prices popped to a five-day high Wednesday on news that China's booming real estate sector shows no signs of slowing.

Copper for July delivery was ahead by 2.9% to $4.1125 a pound, earlier hitting a five-day high at $4.1155. The copper spot price was at $4.10, up 2.1%.
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"Right now, after several days of some rather sharp declines, most commodity markets are higher, with copper leading the advance in base metals," said MF Global analyst Ed Meir. "Out of China, there are very few signs that the red-hot property sector is cooling down," he added.

China is the world's largest copper importer. Bloomberg reports that Chinese home prices rose in 67 out of 70 cities in April. Prices rose faster in smaller cities and slowed in the biggest ones. New home prices in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province in the remote western region of China rose the most, up 9.3% last month year-over-year. New home prices in Beijing increased 2.8% in April vs. 4.9% in March.

Prices in Shanghai slowed with a 1.3% increase.

Copper, a global economic indicator owing to its strong industrial role, was also gaining as European Central Bank officials ruled out a Greek debt restructuring plan involving a delay or trimming of Greek bond payments -- going against the wishes of political leaders.

According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey, the majority of responders indicated that sovereign debt has been their greatest concern while watching for economic growth. The majority of those surveyed said that they were uncertain about economic growth or thought the economy was going to shrink.

Despite the red metal's advances Wednesday, Meir cautioned that copper prices have approached more robust levels several times this week before backing off, so it remains to be seen whether they can push higher from here.

Copper stocks were stronger Wednesday.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX) was spiking 4% to $48.69, Southern Copper ( SCCO) was popping 5.8% to $35.60, Teck Resources ( TCK) was gaining 3.9% to $50.01, Augusta Resource ( AZC) was surging 11.5% to $4.35, Ivanhoe Mines ( IVN) was adding 6.4% to $25.15, Taseko Mines ( TGB) was up 1.6% to $4.98 and Encore Wire ( WIRE) was rising 3% to $24.33.

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-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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