Copper Gains After Strong U.S. Economic Data

Copper and other base metal prices rose Friday morning on the back of strong U.S. economic data.

The price of copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.53% at $5,613 per metric ton in midmorning trading.

The spot price of gold, meanwhile, continued its upward swing, climbing 0.36% to $1,250.20 a troy ounce on Friday morning, boosted by a weaker dollar.

The Labor Department reported yesterday that initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., fell last week, a further sign the labor market is tightening. At the same time, manufacturing activity across the mid-Atlantic expanded this month, according to an index released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Taken together, the upbeat data has given copper prices "a bit of a lift, " said William Adams, head of research at FastMarkets.

Mr. Adams said copper was also helped by a weakening dollar. Metals, which are priced in dollars, tend to gain in value when the dollar is weak. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of currencies, was down by 0.23% at 89.03 Friday morning.

Copper had been under pressure in recent days as investors dumped riskier assets amid political turmoil in Washington. Prices were also held down by waning investor confidence in China's economic growth prospects. The base metal, which recently gave up its entire 2017 gain, started to rebound last week before again losing traction.

"The short term choppy price action should continue for now," according to a note this morning published by Marex Spectron. "It remains futile to search out the bigger structural trade for now at least," the report said of the base metals market.

Gold, which until recently had been losing value as European political risk subsided, continued a slow recovery in response to the declining dollar. Prices for the precious metal have also been held back because gold has priced in an expected interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve next month.

Among precious metals, silver was up 0.90% at $16.72 a troy ounce, platinum rose 0.33% to $935.65 a troy ounce, and palladium rose 0.33% to $767.05 a troy ounce.

Among base metals on the LME, aluminum was up by 0.07% at $1,925.5 a metric ton, lead rose by 0.31% to $2,078 a metric ton, tin was up by 0.47% to $20,335 a metric ton, zinc rose 0.41% to $2,552 a metric ton and nickel rose 0.10% to $9,185 a metric ton.

Write to Christopher Alessi at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 19, 2017 05:15 ET (09:15 GMT)