Copper declined on Wednesday on housing concerns, after the government reported permits in U.S. for new building fell and housing starts average remained low.

Copper fell today from a four month high after the Commerce Department of the United States said housing starts in January were near their lowest level since 1991, rising 0.8 percent to 1.012 million units annually.

The Department also reported permits for new building dropped 3 percent last month, the lowest level in 16 years. The U.S. is the second largest consumer of copper after China. Construction companies in this country consume copper the most, using about 400 pounds in the average home, according to Bloomberg.

The red metal is 8.3 percent below its record of $4.04 a pound in 2006 due to a housing slump that consequently shrank demand in the U.S.

Copper futures for May delivery declined $1.9 or 0.51 percent to $3,714 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange today.

Stockpiles of copper in London Metal Exchange fell to the lowest levels by 2,725 metric tons to a total of 137,625 metric tons in a daily report today. Inventories were 140,350 on Tuesday and inventories have fallen from nearly 200,000 metric tons at the beginning of the year.

In the LME, copper futures rose $230 or 2.87 percent to $8,238 a metric ton.

Yesterday, copper climbed to its highest record since October 5 to $3.7325 a pound on signs of escalating demand from China and London Metal Exchange falling inventories.

Recently, China reported its imports of copper and products of the red metal in January gained 4.6 percent compared to the previous year.