Copper fluctuates in choppy trade as China GDP spurs stimulus bets

Copper prices fluctuated in choppy trade on Wednesday, as dismal Chinese growth data fuelled speculation policymakers in Beijing will have to do more to jumpstart the economy.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper for May delivery inched up 0.5 cents, or 0.2%, to trade at $2.706 a pound during European morning hours, after hitting a session low of $2.690.
A day earlier, copper hit $2.675, the lowest level since March 20, before ending at $2.700, down 1.9 cents, or 0.7%.
Futures were likely to find support at $2.675, the low from April 14, and resistance at $2.762, the high from April 13.
Official data released earlier showed that China’s economy grew 7.0% in the first quarter, in line with forecasts and down from growth of 7.3% in the preceding quarter. It was the slowest pace of growth since the global financial crisis in 2008.
A separate report showed that industrial production rose by an annualized rate of 5.6% in March, below expectations for a 6.9% increase and following a gain of 6.8% in the preceding month.
Data on retail sales and fixed asset investment also fell short of forecasts, indicating that China needs to act to prevent a further slowdown in the economy.
The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption.
Elsewhere, gold futures for June delivery dipped 10 cents, or 0.01%, to trade at $1,192.50 a troy ounce, while silver futures for May delivery shed 0.8 cents, or 0.05% to trade at $16.15 an ounce.
Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar recovered some ground lost after a weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales report on Tuesday.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.1% to trade at 99.10 early on Wednesday after hitting a low of 98.58 on Tuesday.

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