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Copper futures edge higher after Alcoa earnings, China data eyed

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Shutterstock photo - Copper futures edged higher during European morning hours on Wednesday, as market sentiment improved following Alcoa's upbeat fourth quarter earnings, while investors looked ahead to key economic data out of China.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for March delivery traded at USD3.687 a pound during European morning trade, up 0.4% on the day.

New York-traded copper prices held in a range between USD3.668 a pound, the daily low and a session high of USD3.691 a pound. Futures rose to USD3.758 on January 3, the strongest level since October 18.

Appetite for growth-linked assets improved after U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa kicked off earnings season by saying it swung to a fourth-quarter profit, despite weak aluminum prices in 2012.

The aluminum giant predicted global demand growth for the commodity will rise 7% in 2013, compared with 6% in 2012.

Demand in China, the world's largest aluminum and copper consumer, will grow 11% this year on stimulus spending announced by the new leadership, Alcoa Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld said.

Copper traders were now looking ahead to Thursday's trade numbers from China, while inflation data was due out on Friday.

China is the world's largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

Overall market sentiment remained subdued amid uncertainty over the ongoing U.S. debate about raising the debt ceiling.

Investors also remained cautious ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank policy setting meeting. The ECB was widely expected to hold off cutting rates, but some market participants expected the bank to flag the possibility of rate cuts later in the year.

Another closely watched development will be the Bank of England's monthly announcement on its key interest rate, also due Thursday.

Elsewhere on the Comex, gold for February delivery added 0.1% to trade at USD1,663.55 a troy ounce, while silver for March delivery eased up 0.1% to trade at USD30.48 a troy ounce. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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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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