May 25, 2012 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Copper prices were higher Friday, but pushed off their overnight gains by a stronger dollar and as traders trimmed holdings ahead of the long weekend in the U.S.
The most actively traded contract, for July delivery, was recently up 1.65 cents, or 0.5%, at $3.4450 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract had touched a high of $3.4675 in electronic trading.
Copper prices caught a boost overnight from data showing European consumers remained optimistic despite the region's ongoing sovereign debt crisis.
Consumer confidence in Germany, the largest economy in the euro bloc, was steady at 5.7 points in May, with the overall indicator forecasting an identical reading for June, according to Nuremberg-based research firm GfK.
Meanwhile, French consumer confidence ticked higher, with the index reaching 90 in May from 89 in April. May's readings are the highest since November 2010.
Copper is used in everyday goods like laptops, refrigerators and cars. Demand for these products, and the copper contained in them, tends to improve when consumers feel more secure in their spending.
However, copper's gains came under pressure as the dollar strengthened ahead of the Comex floor open. The greenback rallied against the euro, with the single European currency recently changing hands at $1.2518, down from $1.2603 earlier.
Copper is priced in dollars and becomes more expensive for buyers who use other currencies when the greenback strengthens.
Trader caution remained a key feature of the copper market Friday, as participants were wary of increasing their bets ahead of a three day weekend in the U.S.
Comex floor trading will be closed Monday in observance of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday.
"With the U.S. closed on Monday, and given the sharp price falls seen already this week, participants heading into a long Memorial Day weekend may well pare back positions and shut up shop early," said Leon Westgate, a metals analyst with Standard Bank in London.