Mar 09, 2012 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Copper futures pushed higher Friday after a better-than-expected reading on the U.S. labor market underlined optimistic demand expectations for the metal from the world's largest economy.
Copper prices are sensitive to shifts in the economic outlook because of the metal's use in plumbing, wiring, automobiles, consumer electronics and other applications. The surprising strength in the U.S. economy this year has helped push copper prices up 10% through Thursday's close.
The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department said Friday, beating expectations for a gain of 213,000.
The most-actively traded copper contract, for May delivery, recently traded up 2.05 cents, or 0.5%, at $3.812 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile exchange.
Futures were in positive territory ahead of the jobs report, as continued moderation in Chinese inflation spurred traders to bet that Beijing would have more flexibility to give a monetary-boost to the economy. The country is the world's top copper consumer, accounting for about 40% of global appetite for the metal.