LONDON: Copper prices bounced on Thursday, breaking a string of three sessions of losses, as buoyant U.S. data fuelled hopes of rising demand amid thin inventories.
Prices reversed direction in the afternoon after touching the lowest in more than a month in the morning when investors curbed buying of risky assets.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had gained 0.9% to $9,488.50 a tonne by 1720 GMT after earlier touching $9,315, its lowest since Oct. 11.
"We are heading towards the end of the year so there's some risk reduction," said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, partner at consultancy T-Commodity in Milan.
"But the fundamentals of the market remain tight. The fact that copper is holding at the current levels despite the weakness in the Chinese economy, is a very bullish signal."
U.S. jobs and factory data on Thursday showed the economy was regaining speed.
Copper also managed to move back above a key technical level, the 200-day moving average, which spurred some speculative buying.
Torlizzi expects LME prices next year to surpass their record of $10,747.50 touched in May.
* LME copper inventories
* The premium of LME cash aluminium over the three-month contract
* China's aluminium imports in October rose by 17.4% from the previous month to their highest since July, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Thursday.
* Malaysia Smelting Corp (MSC), the world's third-largest tin producer, has told customers it is looking into the possibility of lifting a force majeure.
LME tin jumped to a record high of $40,000 before the MSC news emerged and later pared gains to stand at $38,500, up 1.4% on the day.
* LME aluminium edged up 0.1% to $2,619 a tonne and nickel climbed 1.6% to $19,655, but zinc shed 0.5% to $3,177.50 while lead dropped 1.3% to $2,224.50.
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($1 = 6.3769 yuan)- Reuters