Copper Miner Freeport-McMoRan Reports a Big Loss

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A fourth-quarter loss amid sliding copper prices weighed on shares of Freeport-McMoRan, pressuring the broader material sector on Tuesday.

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The Phoenix, Arizona-based company reported a loss of $2.85 billion, or $2.75 a share, in the three months ended December 31. That compared with a profit of $707 million or 68 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Sales fell 11% from a year earlier to $5.23 billion.

Adjusted earnings of 25 cents a share fell short of Wall Street forecasts for 35 cents a share. The company took a $3.1 billion charge in the quarter tied to a goodwill impairment of its oil and gas assets.

Dropping 4.6%, the cash price of Japanese copper was the biggest mover on Tuesday, January 27, closing at JPY 680,000 ($5,737) per metric ton. Following a 1.2% rise on Tuesday, the price of US copper producer grade 110 closed at $3.28 per pound. Following a two-day drop, the price of US copper producer grade 122 increased by 1.2% to $3.28 per pound. After falling for two days, the price of US copper producer grade 102 rose 1.2% to $3.47 per pound.

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Chinese copper prices were mixed for the day. Chinese bright copper scrap saw its price drop 3.3% to a 30-day low of CNY 35,300 ($5,643) per metric ton on Tuesday. Following a 0.9% rise on Tuesday, the price of Chinese copper bar closed at CNY 41,550 ($6,643) per metric ton. The cash price of Chinese copper is back up, rising by 0.9% yesterday to close at CNY 41,750 ($6,675) per metric ton. The price of Chinese copper wire rose 0.8% to CNY 40,690 ($6,505) per metric ton after a two-day drop.

The copper 3-month price fell to a 30-day low at $5,449 per metric ton after shifting 1.8%. The cash price of primary copper fell 1.6% to a 30-day low on the LME of $5,489 per metric ton yesterday.

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