SINGAPORE, Nov. 19 -- Copper, little changed, may fall as weaker-than-estimated U.S. housing data and expanding global inventories renewed speculation supply may outpace demand.
Builders, the biggest copper users in the U.S., began work on fewer new homes last month, compared with September. Housing starts slid to an annual rate of 529,000 units in October, compared with a median estimate of 600,000 in a Bloomberg News survey. The U.S. is the biggest copper consumer after China.
"For the next few days, consolidation is the most likely price path given the latest economic numbers," Stefan Graber, analyst at Credit Suisse Group in Singapore, said in a note.
Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange traded at $6,872.50 a metric ton at 3:16 p.m. Singapore time, after rising to a 14-month high of $6,992 yesterday as the weakening dollar boosted the appeal of commodities as alternative investments. The dollar strengthened 0.3 percent to $1.4921 against the euro, from $1.4963 yesterday, on speculation European lenders will disclose more credit losses.
The March-delivery copper contract was little changed at $3.1395 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. February-delivery copper on the Shanghai Futures Exchange lost as much as 1.2 percent to 53,300 yuan ($7,806) a ton and ended the day at 53,540 yuan.
The worst postwar recession has curbed demand for the metal used mainly in construction and automobiles, boosting London Metal Exchange stockpiles by 22 percent this year. Inventories rose for a 12th day yesterday to 414,100 tons.
Among other LME-traded metals, aluminum was unchanged at $2,066 a ton, and nickel was little changed at $17,130 a ton. Lead slid 0.3 percent to $2,397 a ton, tin dropped 1 percent to $15,050 a ton, while zinc gained 1 percent to $2,269.50 a ton as of 3:07 a.m. in Singapore.