Jun 04, 2012 (Dow Jones) -- Copper futures eased on Monday, setting another 2012 low as weak U.S. economic data didn't improve the demand outlook for the industrial metal.
The most actively traded copper contract, for July delivery, fell 0.65 cent, or 0.2%, to settle at $3.307 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price since Dec. 15.
The London Metal Exchange, the world's main trading hub for base metals, is closed on Monday and Tuesday for a U.K. public holiday.
Copper futures slumped 3.9% last week, as weak employment data in the U.S. and similarly bleak readings on manufacturing activity in China and the euro zone sparked a flight from growth-sensitive assets.
That gloom continued on Monday, with readings on U.S. factory orders and New York-area business activity coming in weaker than expected.
Copper is sensitive to shifts in the economic outlook because of the metal's widespread uses across industries, with applications including heavy-duty power cables, plumbing and wiring in homes, as well as automobiles and consumer electronics.
Traders, said Adam Klopfenstein, a market strategist with Archer Financial Services, are waiting for signs of stability in Europe's debt crisis or potential government steps to prop up growth in the U.S. before betting on a rebound in copper and other growth-sensitive assets.
"The labor market has slowed down," Klopfenstein said. Friday's reading on U.S. hiring in May "really caused a lot of investor apprehension."
Shanghai copper futures sank 2.8% on Monday, hitting their lowest level since October, and Comex-traded copper followed suit. Futures fell as low as $3.238 a pound, the lowest intraday price since November, before rebounding ahead of the opening of other U.S. markets.
"Macro concerns will continue to dictate metals prices in the near term," Morgan Stanley analyst Hussein Allidina said in a note.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading):
Jun $3.3040; down 0.60 cent; Range $3.3010-$3.3385
Jul $3.3070; down 0.65 cent; Range $3.2380-$3.3530