Feb 27, 2012 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Copper futures staged a rebound from early-morning losses after stronger-than-expected data showed the U.S. housing market was on the mend in January.
The most actively traded contract, for March delivery, settled up 1.75 cents, or 0.5%, at $3.8805 a pound Monday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract is up almost 3% so far this month, with just two more trading days left in February.
Pending sales of existing homes increased 2.0% in January, lifting the National Association of Realtors' seasonally adjusted index to 97.0. It was the highest reading since April 2010, when sales caught a boost from federal tax credits, and up 8.0% from the same month a year earlier.
The data beat expectations of a 1% increase and was considered as another signal of the long-awaited recovery in the U.S. real estate market.
Copper prices bounced higher on the news, shaking off earlier losses. Copper is widely used for electrical wiring and water plumbing in residential construction and improvement in this sector of the economy is considered a boon for future demand.
Earlier in the day, copper futures were in retreat amid disappointment over the Group of 20 nations' hesitance to extend bailout measures to Europe. Finance ministers and central bankers from the G-20 advanced and developing economies held a two-day meeting in Mexico City over the weekend, but put off decisions to expand the International Monetary Fund until the group's next meeting in April.
"The weekend G-20 meeting in Mexico failed to convey a sense of unity regarding the ongoing European debt crisis," said INTL FCStone commodities analyst Edward Meir in a note.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading):
Mar $3.8805; up 1.75 cents; Range $3.8235-$3.8900
May $3.8890; up 1.90 cents; Range $3.8310-$3.8965