Investing.com - Copper prices held near the prior session's one-week low on Wednesday, as investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve's monetary policy statement due later in the session.
The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade at the conclusion of its policy meeting at 2:00PM ET Wednesday. The central bank will also release its latest forecasts for economic growth and interest rates.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen is to hold what will be a closely-watched press conference 30 minutes after the release of the Fed's statement, as investors look for signals about the path of future rate hikes.
Many in the market anticipate the pace of increases to be gradual amid concerns over tepid growth overseas and divergent monetary policies between the U.S. and other nations.
Copper for March delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange inched up 0.7 cents, or 0.33%, to trade at $2.059 a pound during morning hours in London. Meanwhile, three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange tacked on 0.17% to $4581.75 a metric ton.
A day earlier, prices tumbled 5.5 cents, or 2.6%, after mining giant Rio Tinto (L:RIO) said they secured $4.4 billion in financing to expand its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia. When fully operational, the mine can produce an average of 430,000 metric tons of copper, or roughly 2% of global supply.
Copper is on track to post an annual decline of 25% in 2015 as fears of a China-led global economic slowdown spooked traders and rattled sentiment. The Asian nation is the world's largest copper consumer, accounting for nearly 45% of world consumption.
Elsewhere in metals trading, gold futures edged higher on Wednesday, but gains were capped as traders awaited the outcome of the all-important Fed meeting.
The yellow metal is on track to post an annual decline of 10% in 2015, the third yearly loss in a row, as speculation over the timing of a Fed rate hike dominated market sentiment for most of the year.
Expectations of higher borrowing rates going forward is considered bearish for gold, as the precious metal struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets when rates are on the rise.
Meanwhile, silver futures for March delivery rose 2.5 cents, or 0.18%, to trade at $13.79 a troy ounce. Prices slumped to $13.62 on Monday, a level not seen since August 2009.
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