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BLBG: Aluminum Erases Gain for Year on Slowdown; Copper Pares Advance
By Claudia Carpenter

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Aluminum fell for a fifth session on signs of slowing demand in the U.S. Copper narrowed its gain.

Aluminum, which rose 38 percent until July this year, has since erased all its gains as manufacturing contracts in the U.S. and parts of Europe. Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, said last week it would halt remaining production at its Rockdale, Texas, smelter.

``Everybody is probably cutting because of softer demand,'' said Andrew Keen, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in London. ``Aluminum is going to be tested significantly over the next quarter to see whether marginal producers can make any money.''

Aluminum for delivery in three months declined $18 to $2,394 a metric ton as of 11:43 a.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Production costs range between $2,600 and $3,000 a ton, Keen said.

Ohio Valley Aluminum is temporarily closing a plant in Indiana because of the construction slowdown, the Evansville Courier & Press reported, citing Ohio Valley President Michael Boyle.

Copper rose $2 to $6,162 a ton, after rising as much as $110. Nickel advanced $50 to $16,000 a ton, zinc dropped $16.50 to $1,651.50 a ton and tin climbed $150 to $17,700 a ton. Lead was unchanged at $1,740 a ton.

Nickel may also be supported because production costs are so much higher than selling prices, Keen said. Nickel costs are between $8 a pound ($17,637 a ton) and $12 a pound, he said. Copper is the ``most vulnerable'' to decline because costs between $1.60 a pound and $2 a pound are still below selling prices, he said.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for December delivery fell 1.2 cents to $2.779 a pound.

To contact the reporter on this story: Claudia Carpenter in London at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net or ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net