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Copper edges higher in China holiday-thinned trade

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NEW DELHI — Copper prices inched higher on Wednesday, supported by improving demand prospects in top consumer China and a soft U.S. dollar, even as trading remained muted during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.48% at $9,359.50 a tonne, as of 0252 GMT.

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The euro held near a nine-month peak against the dollar, as traders weighed a rosier growth outlook for the euro zone against growing signs of a looming U.S. recession.

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Against a basket of currencies, the U.S. dollar index eked out a 0.01% gain to 101.92, not far from last week’s nearly eight-month low of 101.51.

“The official move away from zero (COVID) tolerance policies in China (on Jan. 8) has fast-tracked recovery expectations and boosted investor speculative sentiment,” said Natalie Scott-Gray, a senior metals analyst at StoneX.

“In addition to this, expectation that interest rates will moderate over the year (and deaccelerate in pace) has kept the U.S. dollar’s gains at bay.”

With the Lunar New Year holidays in China, investor focus has shifted to market fundamentals, said Scott-Gray, adding that copper found more support from supply fears in South America, particularly in Peru.

Social unrest in Peru, the world’s second-biggest copper producer, has caused apprehension of disruption to supplies.

In other metals, aluminum gained 0.09% to $2,653 a tonne, lead was up 0.19% at $2,130 and zinc fell 0.15% to $3,424.

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DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0500 Japan Chain Store Sales YY Dec 0500 Japan Leading Indicator Revised Nov 0900 Germany Ifo Business Climate New Jan 0900 Germany Ifo Curr Conditions New Jan 0900 Germany Ifo Expectations New Jan 1100 France Unemp Class-A SA Dec (Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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