Capping its biggest quarterly gain since late 2010, Copper rose on Friday as the United States dollar weakened and a bullish trend in warehouse stockpiles boosted prices even as worries about the Chinese demand outlook persisted for investors.
Copper rose 11 percent in the quarter, up more than any other quarter since it surged almost 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. The first-quarter gain was attributed to receding European debt crisis fears and healthier economic signals in the United States despite fears about an impending slowdown in China.
"I am not so sure we are going to see the same type of performance in Q2 ... maybe a little bit more muted with a downside risk, particularly given that China is at risk of a somewhat harder landing than I think most have priced in," said Bart Melek, head commodity strategist with TD Bank Financial Group.
In New York, the May COMEX contract rose 2.85 cents to settle at $3.8250 per lb and London Metal Exchange (LME) benchmark copper closed up $95 at $8,445 a tonne.
"Although you do have a market very worried about Chinese demand, metals have been performing surprisingly well," said Barclays Capital analyst Gayle Berry. "I think we will see more range trading for copper unless something convincing sparks a change."
"Falling inventories and strong Chinese imports underscore the positive cyclical picture for most markets," Credit Suisse said in a research note. "Combined with undervaluation and a neutral trend, we have a rather upbeat outlook for the one-year time horizon."