Copper price rallies amid rising optimism on Chinese economic outlook

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Copper rallied back above $9,000 a ton as investors weighed upbeat factory data from top consumer China and the potential for output cuts by the country’s leading smelters.

Investors are becoming more optimistic about the world’s second-largest economy after the official manufacturing purchasing managers index in March registered the highest reading in a year, the latest green shoot alongside strong exports and rising consumer prices. A factory gauge in the US also unexpectedly halted 16 straight months of decline.

“The economic data is aiding market sentiment, signaling a recovery in manufacturing industry,” analysts at Galaxy Futures wrote in a note, adding the trend supports consumption of raw materials like copper which is facing potential supply-side constraints.

China’s smelters, which produce over half the world’s refined copper, are considering output cuts after processing fees fell to near zero.

Still, the solid US factory data reinforced speculation that the Federal Reserve will be slow to cut interest rates, which could weigh on the outlook for commodities. Bond traders have priced in less easing by the Fed this year and briefly set the odds of a first move in June below 50%.

Copper climbed 1.5% to $9,000 a ton on the London Metal Exchange by 4:15 p.m. local time, after earlier rising as much as 2%. Aluminum jumped as much as 2.2% to $2,387.50, its highest level since January. Zinc rallied 1.8%, as all metals except lead rose.

(By Annie Lee)


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