Copper dropped by the exchange-imposed limit in Shanghai, pacing losses in the metal traded in London, on scepticism US measures to shore up banks and unlock credit markets will quickly lift the global recession.
A jump in global inventories also weighed on prices. Copper stockpiles in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange rose to the highest since November 2003.
Aluminum inventories are at a record and nickel stockpiles are the highest since July 1995. China cut January imports of the metal and products by 19 per cent from the previous month when they had reached a 20-month high, according to preliminary customs data. The country's exports of aluminum and alloys fell 77 per cent to 17,646 tonnes in January from December.
Copper for May delivery, the most active contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, fell by five per cent from the previous settlement price, to 27,960 yuan ($4,091) a metric tonne. It has gained 18 per cent the past six days. London Metal Exchange copper fell as much as two per cent to $3,415 a tonne.
Copper futures also fell the most in a week in New York. Copper futures for March delivery fell 3.7 cents, or 2.3 per cent, to $1.576 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.