Sep 13, 2011 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Copper prices are near steady as traders eye a flat equity markets and a slightly weaker dollar.
Copper for December delivery, the most actively traded contract, was up 0.50 cents, or 0.1%, at $3.9705 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Thinly traded September-delivery copper was up 1.65 cents, or 0.4%, at $3.9670 a pound.
Equities held near steady, with the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index recently up 1.13 points, or 0.1%, at 1163.40. Copper futures have been moving in the same direction as stocks for much of the past month, with the 30-day average correlation between the two at positive-0.8 on a scale where positive-1 represents a perfect direct relationship.
A weaker greenback, which slipped against a basket of international currencies, also put copper traders in a more upbeat mood. A weaker dollar tends to stoke demand for dollar-denominated copper futures as they appear cheaper to buyers who use foreign currencies.
The ICE Dollar Index was recently at 77.092, down from 77.105 late Monday in New York.
Traders remain watchful of Europe's sovereign debt problems as the cost of insuring Greek debt has sky-rocketed in a sign that financial markets now anticipate a default which would trigger losses at European banks.
Many worry that such a default would hamper the global economy and dent demand for copper, which is widely used in manufacturing and construction.
China's refined copper production hit a record in August to 518,000 metric tons, up 29% from a year earlier and up 8.4% from July, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. China producers pure copper from imported copper ore concentrates, as there is little domestic copper mining capacity.
The news coincided with stronger copper and copper product imports over the same period, which is "a sign of continued high copper demand in China," said analysts at Commerzbank.
Elsewhere, the world's largest copper producer, Chilean state-owned Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco), said its copper output for the first half totalled 818,000 metric tons, up from 799,000 over the same period last year.