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Commodities trading outlook: gold, silver and copper futures

Copper futures headed for a third weekly advance, after rising to a three-week high on Wednesday, on concern global supplies may be disrupted following an earthquake and tsunami in Chile, the worlds biggest producer of the red metal. Meanwhile, gold futures were poised for a third weekly drop, the longest run of losses since September, ahead of a government report that may show the fastest jobs growth in four months and the weakest level of unemployment in five years, backing the case for the Federal Reserve to keep cutting monetary stimulus. Silver futures also advanced.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, copper futures for settlement in May surged by 0.67% to trade at $3.047 a pound by 11:30 GMT. Prices shifted in a daily range between $3.053 and $3.029 a pound. On April 2nd, the metal touched $3.074 a pound, the strongest since March 9.

According to a statement by BHP Billiton Ltd. released yesterday, the Coloso port, which handles ore from the world’s largest copper mine, Escondida has resumed normal operations. On Wednesday, the operator of the mine evacuated the port following government recommendations. The operator of the Collahuasi mine already announced two days ago that operations at the mine have returned to normal, with no damage or injuries from the quake.

A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Chile at 09:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, leading to the death of six people. According to data by the US Geological Survey, the earthquake struck about 95 kilometers northwest from the city of Iquique, near the border with Peru, triggering tsunami waves.

Prices of the red metal drew support yesterday, after the Chinese government announced it will start a massive railway building in less-developed regions, which will be funded by a sale of government bonds worth 150 billion yuan (approximately $24 billion). China is the world’s largest consumer of the metal.

Meanwhile, on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for settlement in June traded at $1 292.30 an ounce by 11:31 GMT, adding 0.6% for the day. Prices shifted in a tight daily range between $1 293.40 an ounce and $1 284.50 an ounce. However, the precious metal headed for a 0.25% decline this week after sliding to $1 278.10 an ounce on April 1, the weakest level since February 11.

Bullion prices were pressured amid expectations a government report due to be released later today may show private payrolls rose by 200 000 in March, the most in four months, according to the median experts’ forecast. Data may also show that the jobless rate stood at 6.6% last month, matching January’s reading and the weakest since October 2008. If confirmed, these data points will add to signs the US labor market is strengthening, which will back the case for further stimulus reductions.

Fed President for St. Louis James Bullard said on April 2 that if inflation slows further, decreasing the pace of Fed tapering cannot be ruled out, even though he didn’t expect that to happen.

Elsewhere on the Comex, silver futures for May delivery rose by 0.75 percent to trade at $19.953 an ounce by 11:32 GMT. The precious metal headed for a 0.5% gain this week, snapping two straight 5-day periods of losses. Platinum futures for July delivery traded at $1 443.95 an ounce, losing 0.11 percent for the day. Palladium futures for June delivery traded at $790.20 an ounce, adding 0.17%. The metal has risen 8% this year on concern more sanctions by the US and the EU on Russia and a strike at South African mines may reduce supplies. The two countries are the biggest producers of palladium.

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