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Copper futures edge higher ahead of ECB; China data eyed

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Shutterstock photo - Copper futures edged higher during European morning hours on Thursday, as investors focused on policy meeting by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England later in the day.

Market players also awaited the release of key U.S. monthly jobs report on Friday as well as Chinese economic numbers due out Friday and Saturday to gauge the strength of the world's two largest economies.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for May delivery traded at USD3.506 a pound during European morning trade, up 0.35% on the day.

New York-traded copper prices held in a trading range between USD3.493 a pound, the daily low and a session high of USD3.511 a pound.

The ECB was widely expected to leave rates on hold at 0.75%, but concerns over the economic outlook for the region fuelled speculation over the prospect of future rate cuts.

Meanwhile, the pound fell to a two-and-a-half year low against the U.S. dollar ahead of the BoE's policy meeting later Thursday, amid speculation over whether the central bank will resume its asset purchase program.

In a busy day for central banks, the Bank of Japan announced no changes to monetary policy at the conclusion of its policy meeting earlier in the day, but expectations for more aggressive easing measures in the future remained intact.

Copper traders are also focusing on the U.S. nonfarm payrolls employment report due Friday after data on Wednesday showed that private sector employment increased more-than-expected in February.

Also Friday, China will announce its trade data for February, which will be followed by inflation and industrial numbers over the weekend.

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

Weakness in the U.S. dollar supported prices. The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.25% to trade at 82.35.

A weaker dollar boosts demand for raw materials as an alternative investment and makes dollar-priced commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Elsewhere on the Comex, gold for April delivery added 0.4% to trade at USD1,580.80 a troy ounce, while silver for May delivery rose 0.45% to trade at USD28.93 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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