NEW YORK, Aug 23, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via ) --
Copper futures ended Monday near flat as participants didn't want to place fresh bets in the market until data later this week provide further guidance on the health of the economic recovery.
The most actively traded copper contract, for December delivery, rose 0.1 cent, or 0.03%, to settle at $3.3125 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
"The markets are just making noise," said Ira Epstein, director of the Ira Epstein division of the Linn Group in Chicago. "There's no market data to move off of."
Participants are looking toward data later in the week to provide a direction for the metal, prices for which are closely linked the conomic cycles since it is widely used in piping, wiring and sheets for construction, electronics, appliances and automobiles.
Of particular interest will be U.S. existing home sales for July, due Tuesday, new residential sales on Wednesday, and a second-quarter U.S. gross domestic product revision on Friday. Economists expect to see the initial estimate of a 2.4% advance cut down significantly, toward a much more modest 1.3% gain.
Last week, copper futures rose as much as 4.2% to $3.41 pound amid a bit of a recovery in the equity markets, but a wave of disappointing jobs and business conditions data Thursday reversed that momentum. Copper's Friday settlement was just 1.2% above its close from a week earlier.
The lack of movement in copper prices Monday comes amid typical summer slowness, with trading thinned by vacations in a time when construction-related orders tend to be fewer.
"Since there's really no news, traders are kind of content to sit on the sidelines," said Larry Young, president of Covenant Trading in Chicago.
Inventories of copper stored in London Metal Exchange-monitored warehouses rose 475 metric tons Monday, leaving them at 402,200. The most recent Comex inventory data, released late Friday afternoon, were down 44 short tons at 96,462 short tons.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading):
Sep $3.2915; up 0.05 cent; Range $3.2710-$3.3130
Dec $3.3125; up 0.10 cent; Range $3.2925-$3.3315