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Copper futures boosted by China stimulus hopes

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Shutterstock photo - - Copper prices extended gains from the previous session on Thursday, amid speculation policymakers in China will have to introduce further stimulus measures to jumpstart the economy amid lackluster growth.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper for May delivery tacked on 2.8 cents, or 1.04%, to trade at $2.741 a pound during European morning hours, after hitting a session high of $2.749, the strongest level since April 13.

A day earlier, copper hit $2.668, the lowest level since March 20, before recovering to end at $2.712, up 1.2 cents, or 0.46%.

Futures were likely to find support at $2.668, the low from April 15, and resistance at $2.762, the high from April 13.

Official data released Wednesday showed that China's economy grew 7.0% in the first quarter, the slowest pace of growth since the global financial crisis in 2008.

A separate report showed that industrial production rose by an annualized rate of 5.6% in March, below expectations for a 6.9% increase and slowing from a gain of 6.8% in the preceding month.

Data on retail sales and fixed asset investment also fell short of forecasts, indicating that China needs to act to prevent a further slowdown in the economy.

Since November, the People's Bank of China has introduced a series of stimulus measures, including lowering interest rates twice and cutting the reserve requirement ratios of major banks once, in order to spur economic activity and boost growth.

The Asian nation is the world's largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption.

Elsewhere, gold futures for June delivery tacked on $4.50, or 0.37%, to trade at $1,205.80 a troy ounce, while silver futures for May delivery jumped 11.1 cents, or 0.68% to trade at $16.39 an ounce.

Gold remained supported amid speculation the Federal Reserve could delay hiking interest rates until late 2015, instead of tightening midyear, due to concerns over the strength of the economy.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar recovered some ground lost after a weaker-than-expected U.S. industrial production report on Wednesday.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.3% to trade at 98.85 early on Thursday after hitting an overnight low of 98.07.

Investors looked ahead to U.S. housing data later in the session for further indications on the strength of the economy and the timing of an interest rate hike.

The U.S. was also set to release weekly data on initial jobless claims as well as a report on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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