Sep 16, 2011 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Copper futures retreated to negative territory as weaker equity markets put a dent in investors' appetite for risk.
The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, was recently down 2.00 cents, or 0.5%, at $3.9370 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Thinly traded September-delivery copper was flat at $3.9450 a pound.
Copper prices followed benchmark U.S. stock indices lower in late morning trade as investors shed risky assets like commodities and stocks in favor of cash. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was slightly lower at 1208.40
"Traders are having a tough time getting bullish unless we start seeing positive economic news," said Rob Kurzatkowski, senior commodity analyst with optionsXpress.
Copper prices have slipped below the psychologically important $4 level in recent days amid concerns that Europe's sovereign debt problems would stall the region's economy and retard its demand for copper. The red metal is widely used in manufacturing and construction, and Europe is often second behind top copper consumer China in global copper demand.
Moreover, downbeat economic data showing U.S. manufacturing has slowed while unemployment remains stubbornly high added to the negative pressure.
"Traders would like to see a bit more positive news to push [copper] above $4," Kurzatkowski said.