Jun 05, 2012 (Dow Jones) NEW YORK--Copper futures extended their losses for the fifth-straight trading session, marking a fresh low for 2012 as a stronger dollar and ongoing worries about Spain weighed on prices.
The most actively traded contract, for July delivery, fell 1.80 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $3.2890 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. This was the lowest settlement price since Dec. 15.
Spain's budget minister, Cristobal Montoro, urged euro-zone partners to mobilize aid for the country's banking system, adding that Spain's economy is too large to be bailed out but its banks don't need a "huge" amount of help. Spain's borrowing costs have traded above 6% for the past three weeks, effectively shutting it out of global capital markets.
Copper, which is widely used in construction and manufacturing, has been under pressure in recent weeks as concerns about Europe's economic outlook intensify.
"I don't see it going a whole lot lower, but we're very lacking in a catalyst to drive this market higher," said Matt Zeman, head of trading at Kingsview Financial. Mr. Zeman added that copper prices could decline to $3.25 a pound.
A stronger dollar, which again made headway against the euro, also pressured copper prices. Demand for dollar-denominated copper futures tends to fall when the greenback rallies, as the contracts become more expensive for investors using other currencies.
Copper's decline were muted by lower trading volumes and the absences of U.K. based market participants. The London Metal Exchange, the world's main trading hub for base metals, is closed Tuesday for a U.K. public holiday in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
Investor attention is firmly focused on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to Congress, due Thursday, as well as any stirrings regarding monetary stimulus from Europe.
"If they're able to ignite a rally in equities and other risk assets I suspect copper will recover," Mr. Zeman said.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading):
Jun $3.2885; down 1.55 cents; Range $3.2785-$3.3260
Jul $3.2890; down 1.80 cents; Range $3.2780-$3.3515