Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) –Copper futures in New York rose the most since March after claims for unemployment-insurance payments unexpectedly fell in the U.S., tempering concern that the economy is faltering.
Applications for jobless benefits decreased in the week ended Aug. 6 to 395,000, the fewest since early April, the Labor Department said. Economists forecast 405,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The U.S. is the world's second-largest copper user. On the London Metal Exchange, lead and zinc jumped more than 4 percent.
"Any type of drop in jobless claims adds to the bullish momentum," Adam Klopfenstein, a senior strategist at MF Global Holdings Ltd. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.
Copper futures for December delivery gained 11.9 cents, or 3 percent, to close at $4.03 a pound at 1:15 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since March 17. The metal has climbed 23 percent in the past 12 months.
"Strength in the Chinese yuan, which increases China's purchasing power for dollar-based commodities, helped fuel a rally in base metals overnight," RBC Capital Markets said in a report.
The yuan strengthened beyond 6.4 per dollar for the first time since 1993, supported by the Federal Reserve's pledge to keep interest rates at a record low. China is the largest metal buyer.
On the LME, copper for delivery in three months jumped $286, or 3.3 percent, to $8,881 a metric ton ($4.03 a pound).
Nickel, tin and aluminum also gained in London.