- Copper futures declined on Thursday, as market players looked ahead to key U.S. economic data later in the day for further indications on the future course of monetary policy.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for March delivery traded at USD3.341 a pound during European morning trade, down 0.5%.

Comex copper prices held in a range between USD3.339 a pound and USD3.369 a pound. The March contract ended Wednesday’s session up 0.66% to settle at USD3.358 a pound after upbeat U.S. data bolstered sentiment on the economic outlook.

Copper prices were likely to find support at USD3.308 a pound, the low from January 15 and resistance at USD3.375 a pound, the high from January 8.

Data released Wednesday showed that manufacturing activity in the New York-region expanded at the fastest pace since May 2012 in January as new orders rose sharply.

A separate report showed that U.S. producer price inflation rose at the strongest rate in six months in December.

The upbeat data reinforced expectations that the U.S. economic recovery will continue to deepen going into this year and offset lingering concerns over last week’s surprisingly weak nonfarm payrolls report.

The U.S. is to publish reports on consumer price inflation and initial jobless claims later in the session, in addition to data on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia.

Market participants have closely been looking out for U.S. data reports recently to gauge if they will strengthen or weaken the case for the Federal Reserve to scale back stimulus.

The central bank is scheduled to meet January 28-29 to review the economy and assess policy. The Fed’s stimulus program is viewed by many investors as a key driver in boosting the price of commodities as it tends to depress the value of the dollar.

Elsewhere on the Comex, gold for February delivery dipped 0.1% to trade at USD1,237.00 a troy ounce, while silver for March delivery fell 0.55% to trade at USD20.02 a troy ounce.

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