Copper for December settlement on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange inched up 1.00 cents or 0.3% to $2.9290 per lb. Yesterday, the contract hit a six-week low.

"We do not have any firm view on the metals group at this particular stage and expect rather range bound trading to continue," INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said. "Most complexes should benefit from what is going on in China, specifically a conscious effort undertaken by the authorities to limit output across a number of metals groups."

A speech by US Federal Open Market Committee chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday was interpreted by markets as hawkish. She noted that it would be “imprudent” to keep monetary policy on hold until inflation reaches 2%, thereby lending weight to the possibility of a US rate increase in December.

In copper data, China’s imports of refined copper rose 9.8% year on year but fell 10.1% month on month to 254,762 tonnes, while imports of copper ores and concentrates fell 0.2% year on year but rose 2.9% on the month to 1.44 million tonnes in August.

“While there remains concerns over China’s economic health in the second half of this year, the arrival of the peak period for demand will provide support for [copper] prices,” a Chinese broker said. The September-October period is traditionally the peak period for demand in China. 

In the precious metals, Comex gold for December delivery fell $14.10 or 1.1% to $1,287.40 per oz.

Currency moves and data releases
  • The dollar index was recently up 0.54 at 93.53, moving further away from recent multi-year lows.
  • In other commodities, the Texas light sweet crude oil spot price rose 0.35% to $52.06 per barrel. 
  • In data today, durable goods orders in August came in at 1.7%, above the forecast of 1.0%. Core durable goods over the same period were in line with estimates at 0.2%. Later, pending home sales and crude oil inventories are due.