Oct 17, 2011 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Copper futures followed stocks and the euro lower, after Germany sapped hopes for a comprehensive solution to Europe's debt problems.
The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, fell 3.05 cents, or 0.9%, to settle at $3.3780 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Thinly traded October-delivery copper settled down 3.15 cents, or 0.9%, at $3.3735 a pound.
The broader markets took a negative turn after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she considered the dream of resolving all problems at the euro-zone summit impossible. Equities fell while the dollar strengthened as investors moved away from riskier assets and into the safety of cash, after Merkel's spokesman said the Chancellor sees the process as "a long journey, a journey that will certainly continue well into next year."
Copper prices have seen unusually large swings in recent days, moving up and down by 4% in a way that's out of line for a market linked to the health of the global economy, said Zachary Oxman, managing director at TrendMax, a commodity brokerage.
"That's proof that markets have no idea what's going on. Nobody is sure of whether we're growing or retracing," Oxman said, adding that volatility is likely to continue, following cues from the currency market.
Copper traders now await China's third-quarter economic growth data, due out Tuesday. The report "may not quite meet the high expectations" as the latest data from China show growth has slowed "considerably," said analysts at Commerzbank.
Elsewhere, Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) Monday halted work at its Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia for "safety reasons" after striking workers blocked all access to the mine, officials said. The workers had been on strike since Sept. 15 and are demanding higher wages.
The world's largest listed copper mining company had been running the Grasberg mine at 80% capacity using non-staff and contracted workers and it remains unclear when work will resume.
On Friday, three workers were killed by unidentified gunmen, while two policemen were wounded, Freeport Indonesia said.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading):
Oct $3.3735; down 3.15 cents; Range $3.3655-$3.4540
Dec $3.3780; down 3.05 cents; Range $3.3685-$3.4635