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Copper stuck in a rut as markets await U.S. data

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LONDON — Copper prices barely budged for a seventh consecutive session on Thursday, with top consumer China on holiday and markets awaiting the release of U.S. growth data that could offer guidance on the Federal Reserve’s next policy move.

A weakening dollar and hopes for stronger Chinese demand after the nation ditched its zero-COVID policies have pushed up copper prices by more than 20% since November.

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Strong U.S. growth would hint at more aggressive interest rate rises from the Fed, which could support the dollar.

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Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 0.1% at $9,316.50 a tonne at 1154 GMT in muted trade because markets were closed in China, India and Australia.

“The biggest thing many people are looking at is the China reopening,” said Amelia Xiao Fu, head of commodity market strategy at Bank of China International, adding that industrial activity could start to recover after this week’s Lunar New Year holidays.

Fears of supply disruption in top copper producers Chile and Peru have added to concerns that additional demand from China’s reopening could stretch an already tight market.

Freeport-McMoRan Inc, which operates seven mines in the United States, also warned on Wednesday that its struggle to find workers is limiting its copper output.

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Investors now await a U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product report later in the day, which is expected show the economy maintained a strong pace of growth thanks to consumer spending.

In other metals, zinc gained 0.7% to $3,473 a tonne after touching $3,499.50 for its highest since the end of August.

After posting gains in the previous four sessions, aluminum slipped 0.9% to $2,635 a tonne after stocks in LME-registered warehouses jumped by 40,200 tonnes to 419,425 tonnes.

Lead gained for a third straight session and was up 1.2% at $2,185.50, while nickel eased 0.1% to $29,125 and tin rose 0.6% to $31,030.

For the top stories in metals and other news, click or (Reporting by Swati Verma Additional reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman)

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