Copper, aluminum swing as investors weigh China factory output

Copper and aluminum swung between gains and losses after data showed China’s factory output growth slowed in October and before employment figures from the U.S.

Copper and aluminum both rose 0.2% in London after falling as much as 0.4% earlier. Industrial production in China expanded by 7.7% from a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That’s down from 8% the previous month and below the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Initial jobless claims in the U.S. rose last week to 280,000 from 278,000, according to a separate survey. China and the U.S. are the world’s biggest users of base metals.

“The result is neutral” from the Chinese data, Gavin Wendt, founding director at Mine Life Pty in Sydney, said in an e-mail. “Prices might fall in the wake of the news, but regather lost ground once the market factors in the potential for added Chinese stimulus.”

China’s metals industry fared poorly in October, with growth in the non-ferrous smelting and processing slowing to 10.5% from 11.9% in September, the data showed.

Aluminum for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.2% at $2,064.50 a metric ton at 4:43 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Copper in London climbed 0.1% to $6,688.75 a ton. Futures for December delivery in New York rose 0.3% to $3.025 a pound. In Shanghai, the metal for January delivery rose 0.2% to close at 47,400 yuan ($7,737) a ton.

A strike at the Antamina copper mine in Peru entered a third day, a union official said yesterday. Activity at the site has been “partially” halted and a contingency plan is in place, according to Martin Calderon, spokesman for Cia Minera Antamina SA.

On the LME, nickel reversed earlier losses to rise as much as 0.6% to $15,700 a ton. Lead fell, while tin was little changed and zinc rose.