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Copper trades flat ahead of U.S. employment data

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Shutterstock photo - - Copper prices were little changed on Thursday, as market players looked ahead to the release of key U.S. employment data for further indications on the strength of the economy and the future path of monetary policy.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper for May delivery inched up 0.3 cents, or 0.1%, to trade at $2.751 a pound during European morning hours.

Prices held in a range between $2.736 and $2.764. On Wednesday, copper hit $2.709, the lowest since March 20, before recovering to settle at $2.748, up 0.8 cents, or 0.31%.

Futures were likely to find support at $2.709, the low from April 1, and resistance at $2.792, the high from March 30.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data on initial jobless claims and factory orders as well as a report on the trade balance.

Investors also focused on Friday's U.S. employment report, which was forecast to show a gain of 245,000 jobs in March, following an increase of 295,000 in February.

On Wednesday, payroll processing firm ADP said non-farm private employment rose by 189,000 last month, below expectations for an increase of 225,000 and the lowest since January 2014.

A separate report showed that manufacturing activity in March slowed to the lowest level in 14 months.

The disappointing data fuelled concerns over the health of the U.S. economy and dampened expectations for higher interest rates.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.45% to 98.08 early on Thursday.

Copper remained under pressure amid indications economic conditions in China remain sluggish.

Official data on Wednesday showed that China's manufacturing purchasing managers' index inched up to 50.1 this month, while the China HSBC (LONDON:HSBA) final manufacturing PMI was revised up to 49.6 in March.

Despite the modest uptick in the headline number, the data underlined the view that policymakers in Beijing will have to introduce further stimulus measures to boost growth and spur economic activity.

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

Elsewhere on the Comex, gold futures for June delivery shed $4.40, or 0.36%, to trade at $1,203.80 a troy ounce, while silver futures for May delivery lost 17.4 cents, or 1.02% to trade at $16.88 an ounce. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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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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