Copper Futures declined nearly 3 percent, the lowest drop in six weeks, as worries of an economic recession grew after an official report showed sales at U.S. retailers fell surprisingly in December.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported on Tuesday that retail sales fell 0.4 percent in December, intensifying worries that the world's largest economy is growing slower.

Copper futures for March delivery declined 9.7 cents or 2.91 percent settling on $3.2420 a pound on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:24 p.m. Copper for delivery in three months dropped $101, or 1.39 percent, to $7,389 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange.

U.S. producer prices also dropped unexpectedly, declining0.1 percent in December 2007, a separate report showed today. In December 2006 producer prices have risen 6.3 percent the largest increase since 1981, according to Reuters.

However, China stands out as copper consumer country. Its total imports increased 0.6 percent in December compared to November. The world's largest consumer of the red metal raised its imports 78.1 percent in 2007.

According to Bloomberg, before today's change, copper prices had gained 9.8 percent since December 31 after traders bought copper as the dollar declined. Losses in the dollar favored investment in commodities.