Investing.com - Copper futures rose to a seven-day high in holiday-thinned trade on Monday, after data confirmed that manufacturing activity in China expanded at the fastest pace in 19 months in December.
Trading volumes remained light ahead of the New Year's break, amid growing uncertainty surrounding talks between U.S. lawmakers to avoid the looming fiscal cliff crisis.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for March delivery traded at USD3.615 a pound during European morning trade, up 0.7% on the day.
New York-traded copper prices rose by as much as 1% earlier in the session to hit a daily high of USD3.626 a pound, the strongest level since December 19.
For the year, New York-traded copper prices rose 5%.
Copper prices found support after a report from HSBC released earlier confirmed that manufacturing activity in China expanded at the fastest pace since May 2011 in December.
The final version of China's HSBC Purchasing Managers Index rose to 51.5 in December from a final reading of 50.5 in November.
China is the world's largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.
Meanwhile, market players remained focused on developments surrounding the fiscal cliff in the U.S., approximately USD600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts due to come into effect on January 1.
U.S. President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House Friday afternoon, but both sides failed to reach an agreement ahead of the looming year-end deadline.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would resume sitting on Monday to continue discussions, but there were still significant differences between the two sides.
Without a deal, the U.S. could fall back into recession and drag much of the world down with it.
Elsewhere on the Comex, gold for February delivery added 0.7% to trade at USD1,667.15 a troy ounce, while silver for March delivery rose 0.8% to trade at USD30.22 a troy ounce.
Trading was expected to remain subdued, with year-end positioning driving flows and as holidays in many countries limit activity.
Lower-than-usual volumes could spark volatile trading, resulting in rapid changes in metal prices during the final trading day of the year.
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