Investing.com - Copper prices slumped in Asia on Monday on a disappointing reading for a closely-watched manufacturing survey in China, the world's top importer of the metal.
Australia building approvals jumped 2.8% in March month-on-month, beating a drop of 2.0% seen, but the overall trend is in line with the Reserve Bank's forecast for strong growth in dwelling investment in the coming quarters.
But the HSBC (LONDON:HSBA) manufacturing survey for China fell to 48.9 in April, well below the 49.4 level seen and down from 49.2 in March.
Copper for July delivery fell 1.12% to $2.903 a pound.
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 twice, 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 last year.
On Monday, markets in Japan and in the U.K. are to remain closed for holidays.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery rose 0.67% at $1,182.40 a troy ounce.
Also on the Comex, silver futures for July delivery rose 0.73% to $16.252 a troy ounce.
Last week, gold prices ended Friday's session at a six-week low as traders monitored the direction of the dollar while speculating on the timing of a Federal Reserve rate hike.
The dollar regained ground on Friday amid signals that the U.S. economy may be stabilizing after a recent bout of weakness.
Reports on Friday showed that activity in the manufacturing sector was stable in April, after slowing in the five previous months, while consumer sentiment improved to its highest level since January last month.
On Thursday, weekly claims data showed that the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits fell to a 15-year low of 262,000 last week, fuelling optimism that the U.S. economy has turned a corner after a recent soft patch.
Data published Wednesday showed that the U.S. economy grew just 0.2% in the three months to March, slowing from 2.2% in the final quarter of 2014. It was the slowest rate of growth in a year.
Gold rallied to a three-week peak of $1,214.60 on Tuesday as concerns over the U.S. economic recovery prompted investors to push back expectations for higher U.S. interest rates.
But the Federal Reserve said in its rate statement on Wednesday that recent indications of a slowdown in growth were probably due to "transitory factors."
In the week ahead, investors will be focusing on Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, for a fresh indication on the strength of the economic recovery.
On Monday, the euro area is to produce revised data on manufacturing activity, while the U.S. is to publish figures on factory orders.
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