Copper ends 2013 near 4-month peak

Copper ends 2013 near 4-month peakCopper prices were little changed on Tuesday in London, trading close to a four-month high as positive data coming from top consumer China suggested global economy is improving as 2013 draws to a close.

The red metal settled at a three-month price of $7,373 a tonne by 1023 GMT, up from $7,355 per tonne as the market opened in London, closing at $7,415.50, its highest since Aug. 16.

The metal is often referred to as "Dr. Copper" for its reputed ability to reflect the world's economic health due to its broad industrial uses.

Prices for March delivery fell 0.1% to $3.3805 a pound on the Comex in New York, but they have added 5.5% this month, the most since September 2012.

Overall this year copper slipped 7.4%, but the losses were more modest than many expected, since tons of copper concentrate are expected to flow into the market next year. According to estimates from the International Copper Study Group, mine output will increase 6.4% by year-end, which may send prices diving in 2014.

The top 10 copper mine expansions – half of which are greenfield projects led by the massive new Mina Ministro Hales in Chile and Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi – will alone contribute more than one million tonnes of new supply in 2014.

This strong supply issue was reinforced on Monday when world’s No. 1 copper producer Chile said its output increased 7.6% in November.

Adding to the abundant available metal has been the relatively few supply disruptions in 2013.

Total global refined production is set to increase to around 22 million in 2014 from less than 21 million tonnes this year.