Mar.1 (Bloomberg) --Copper climbed for a third straight session as improving economic data and gains in equity markets buoyed demand expectations.
U.S. stocks advanced, heading for the third straight monthly gain. Businesses in the U.S., the world’s second-largest copper user, grew in February at the fastest pace in two decades. An index of U.S. manufacturing this month will show expansion, and U.S. vehicle sales probably gained, economists said before industry reports tomorrow.
"The market is once again driven by economic optimism,” said Matthew Zeman, a metal trader at LaSalle Futures Group in Chicago. "People are a bit calmer and focusing on the future.”
Copper futures for May delivery advanced 4.15 cents, or 0.9 percent, to close at $4.4965 a pound at 1:27 p.m. on the Comex in New York, bringing the gain in three sessions to 4.8 percent. The metal was up 0.9 percent in February, the eighth straight increase.
Copper may top $4.6575, the record on Feb. 15, in a few weeks unless the unrest in the Middle East escalates, causing another surge in oil prices, Zeman said.
In Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck 37 kilometers (23 miles) south of Conception yesterday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The temblor is about 100 miles from "any significant copper operations,” Standard Bank said.
Copper prices have climbed 37 percent in the past year as mining companies struggled to keep pace with rising consumption in emerging markets. China is the largest buyer.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months jumped $125, or 1.3 percent, to $9,885 a metric ton ($4.48 a pound).
Aluminum, tin, zinc, lead and nickel also gained in London.