Copper futures fell to a three-week low on Thursday, as concerns over the health of China’s economy dampened appetite for the red metal. Copper for December delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange inched hit an intraday low of $2.294 a pound, a level not seen since September 2, before trading at $2.302 during morning hours in London, up 0.6 cents, or 0.28%. A day earlier, copper dipped 0.2 cents, or 0.09% after private sector data showed that manufacturing activity in China contracted at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis, fueling fears over slackening demand for the industrial metal. The preliminary reading of the Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers’ index published Wednesday fell to 47.0 in September from a final reading of 47.3 a month earlier. It was the lowest reading since March 2009. The gloomy figure added to concerns over the health of the world’s second largest economy. Copper prices have been under heavy selling pressure in recent weeks as fears of a China-led global economic slowdown spooked traders and rattled sentiment. Prices of the red metal sank to a six-year low of $2.202 on August 24.The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year Elsewhere in metals trading, gold futures for December delivery tacked on $4.70, or 0.42%, to trade at $1,136.20 a troy ounce as market players continued to speculate over the timing of a Federal Reserve rate hike.