Sep 13, 2012 (Dow Jones) NEW YORK--Copper futures settled at a fresh four-month high Thursday as growth-sensitive assets rallied in response to the Federal Reserve's new bond-buying program and plans to extend low interest rates to 2015.
Copper for December delivery, the most active contract, rallied 1.75 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $3.7100 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract extended its gains to $3.7465 in electronic trading, after the Comex floor closed at 1 p.m. ET.
The Federal Open Market Committee said it would buy $40 billion each month of agency mortgage-backed securities on an open-ended basis, in addition to its existing bond purchasing program known as Operation Twist. The Fed's policy setting arm also said it expects to keep short-term interest rates near zero until at least mid-2015, beyond their previous estimate of late 2014.
"This is the Fed committing to make sure they keep policies as loose as possible, so that we have some type of growth that's sustainable," said Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist at Archer Financial Services.
Both efforts are focused on pushing down borrowing costs and improving the value of homes and stocks as the Fed takes aim at boosting labor market conditions.
Copper futures saw "wild, erratic price action" on the report, said Matt Zeman, head of trading at brokerage Kingsview Financial. Prices oscillated between positive and negative territory as investors sifted through the central bank's statement, weighing the likely impact on future demand for copper.
A stimulus package that stokes activity across the economy, including in construction and manufacturing, would bolster demand for the industrial metal.
While the Comex floor closed at 1 p.m. EDT, copper futures set fresh highs in electronic after-market trading, touching $3.7465 a pound, the highest level since May 7.
"This is the knee jerk reaction to additional stimulus," said Kingsview's Mr. Zeman. "It's a little bit more than the market was expecting and people will be waiting for Bernanke's press conference later today," he said.
Copper settlements (ranges include electronic and pit trading):
Sep $3.7270; up 1.70 cents; Range $3.6875-$3.7650
Dec $3.7100; up 1.75 cents; Range $3.6585-$3.7495