April 6 (Bloomberg) -- Copper futures on the London Metal Exchange advanced to more than $8,000 a metric ton for the first time since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 on signs that the global recovery is boosting demand.
The contract for delivery in three months gained as much as 1.6 percent to $8,009.75 a ton, trading at the highest level since Aug. 1, 2008. Lehman's collapse the following month helped push the global economy into recession and drove the metal used in pipes and wires as low as $2,817.25 in December of that year.
Employment in the U.S. rose by 162,000 last month, the most since March 2007, the Labor Department reported on April 2. Manufacturing in China grew for a 13th month and U.S. factories expanded the most since July 2004, reports showed last week. China and the U.S. are the world's biggest consumers of copper.
"A slew of economic data confirmed that the global economy is turning more positive," Cao Yanghui, an analyst at Nanhua Futures Co., said from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province before the $8,000 level was breached. In addition, "we're in a seasonally high-demand period" as factories step up production, Cao said.
Copper, used in houses and autos, can set the pace for other industrial metals such as nickel and zinc, and the metal's recovery underscores the revival of the global economy. The LME, the world's biggest metals market, reopened for trade today after closures on April 2 and April 5 for the Easter break.
Higher copper prices may boost profits at producers including Rio Tinto Group, the world's third-largest mining company, and Xstrata Plc. Barclays Capital "embedded" in its copper forecasts a move to more than $8,000 a ton in the second quarter, Yingxi Yu, an analyst, said yesterday.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on April 4 that there is "momentum building up" in the U.S. economy. China's economic growth accelerated to 10.7 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest pace since 2007. The first-quarter result is due on April 15.
"We foresee copper going as high as $8,200 in London within the second quarter" bolstered by economic recovery around the globe and seasonally strong demand from China, Zeng Chao, an analyst at Everbright Futures Co., said from Shanghai. The metal traded at $7,983 at 3:18 p.m. in Singapore.
Copper reached a record $8,940 a ton on July 2, 2008, two months before Lehman's failure. The metal lost 68 percent of its value in the following five-and-a-half months as factories slashed purchases and investors fled commodity holdings.
Government stimulus packages, including China's $586 billion program, drove a doubling of prices last year. In 2010, the metal has outperformed the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index, rising about 8.2 percent in London compared with a 1.4 percent drop in the gauge that tracks 19 raw materials.
Copper may rise this week as stronger manufacturing figures feed speculation demand is improving, according to a Bloomberg survey published April 2. Eleven of 20 analysts, investors and traders in the survey, or 55 percent, said the metal will climb, while eight forecast lower prices and one expected little change.