Investing.com - Copper futures swung between small gains and losses on Tuesday, as market players looked ahead to key U.S. economic data later in the day for further indications on the future course of U.S. monetary policy.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for March delivery traded at USD3.347 a pound during European morning trade, flat on the day. Comex copper prices held in a range between USD3.338 a pound and USD3.351 a pound.
The March contract ended Monday’s session up 0.15% to settle at USD3.346 a pound. Copper prices were likely to find support at USD3.314 a pound, the low from January 13 and resistance at USD3.373 a pound, the high from January 13.
The U.S. is set to release data on retail sales for December as well as reports on import prices and business inventories later Tuesday. Market players 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.
Data on Friday showed that the U.S. economy added just 74,000 jobs in December, the smallest increase since January 2011 and well below expectations for 196,000 new jobs.
The unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 6.7% last month from 7% in November, but this was due in part to people dropping out of the labor force. The labor participation rate fell to an almost 35-year low of 62.8%.
Despite the disappointing data, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart voiced his support of further tapering to the one already announced in December on Monday. 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 0.2% to trade at USD1,248.30 a troy ounce, while silver for March delivery shed 0.5% to trade at USD20.27 a troy ounce.