U.S. copper futures closed down erasing earlier gains on Thursday as investors worry that an economic recession in the United States could reduce demand for the metal.

In previous weeks, copper prices have been lifted by demand from China and a falling dollar. Today copper futures fell after a report showed retail sales fell unexpectedly in February 0.6 percent according to the Commerce Department. Specialists forecasted a gain of 0.2 percent according to Bloomberg.

Some analysts said decline on copper was related to a housing report released today. The report said U.S. home foreclosures filings jumped 60 percent and bank seizures more than double last month. The United States is the second consumer of copper in the world and its used mainly for house construction.

Copper futures for May delivery fell $1.20 or 0.31 percent to $3.8250 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The red metal rose earlier 0.7 percent on a falling dollar.

In the London Metal Exchange, Copper Futures for delivery in three months rose $142 or 1.70 percent to $8,494 a metric ton.