Copper prices in New York fell from their highest level since May 2006 after inventories climbed and concerns about demand continued.

Inventories have dropped about 30 percent since the beginning of January. However stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange today jumped 6,225 metric tons or 4.6 percent to settle at 141,600 metric tons.

Similarly, copper inventories on the Shanghai Futures Exchange surged 45 percent to 45,188 tons this week. Some analysts said traders were caught off guard after the report of the latest increase in stockpiles, Bloomberg noted.

Copper futures for March fell $1.90 or 0.50 percent to $3.8030 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

On Thursday copper jumped to $3.8545 a pound, the highest price for a most-active contract since May 2006. Gains of copper totaled 7.5 percent this week as demand for commodities increased to protect investments against inflation.

Despite today's decline it is expected that Chinese demand will help copper to rebound. According to reports, China - the largest copper consumer in the world - increased its imports of refined copper 19 percent in January compared to December.

Demand in China rose due to severe winter storms which hit the country in recent weeks. The weather forced the shutdown of smelting operations at two of its largest copper refiners, reducing production.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper futures fell $101 or 1.19 percent to $8,366 a metric ton.