May 24, 2012 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Copper futures rose 1% Thursday as broader markets stabilized after steep losses and investor anxiety over Europe's problems dulled.
The most actively traded contract, for July delivery, settled 3.25 cents, or 1%, higher at $3.4285 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Copper got a boost from U.S. durable goods orders, which rose 0.2% in April, beating forecasts for a 0.3% decline. The measure reflects the uneven recovery in the U.S. manufacturing sector as April's gains come on the heels of a 3.7% decline in March.
A closely watched gauge of China's manufacturing activity missed expectations overnight. HSBC's manufacturing managers' purchasing index fell to 48.7 in May from a final reading of 49.3 in April. A reading below 50 indicated that manufacturing activity is contracting.
"While that should be a negative for growth and demand for commodities, the market is still cheering for stimulus and a few shorts opted to cover," traders at RBC Capital said in a note to clients.
Copper is widely used in manufacturing, from electrical wiring in factory equipment to electronics like laptops and electrical appliances like refrigerators. Demand for copper is directly affected by slowing activity in global manufacturing.
Copper prices spent much of the day in recovery mode following Wednesday's rout. Investors appeared to make peace with the uncertain outlook for Europe's future. Some buyers were lured into the market by lower price levels, while others opted to close out bets on lower prices in the wake of Wednesday's 2.6% slide.
As expected, an informal summit of European Union leaders in Brussels on Wednesday yielded no official communique.
"Although there is still hope for effective measures, a final solution seems far away," said Aurubis AG, the largest refined copper producer in Europe, in a note.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading):
Jul $3.4285; up 3.25 cents; Range $3.4045-$3.4515
May $3.4290; up 3.10 cents; Range $3.4190-$3.4485