Copper declined in New York as it reopened after the Christmas holiday on concern that a slowdown in China, the biggest user, may curb demand growth next year. The contract for March-delivery on the Comex dropped for the first time in five days, losing as much as 3 per cent to $3.365 per pound, before trading at $3.43 in Shanghai. The metal for delivery in March on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed 0.3 per cent lower at 55,050 yuan ($8,708) a metric tonne. The London Metal Exchange was closed for a public holiday. \"The pace of slowdown in China is accelerating, and going into the first quarter, I don\'t expect raw material purchases will be as active as the fourth quarter,\" said Li Ye, an analyst at Shanghai Jiuheng Futures Co. Industrial companies\' profits in China gained 24.4 per cent in January-November from a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. This compares with a 25.3 per cent growth in the first ten months of this year. China\'s economy may grow less than 9 per cent in the fourth quarter, the China Daily reported, citing Yu Bin, director- general of the department of macroeconomic research at the State Council\'s Development Research Centre. The nation will set a growth target of about 11 per cent for industrial output in 2012, the same goal as was set for this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday. This compares with a 14 per cent increase in the January-November period.