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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of metal producers and miners gained ground Thursday, pushed higher by rising commodities prices and encouraging economic data out of the European Union.

Base metals such as copper, aluminum and nickel rose sharply in London and New York trading Thursday. Copper futures had jumped 3.3% and aluminum 4% toward the end of the U.S. session.

Precious metals were higher as well, with gold futures adding $6.30 to $958.88.

On Thursday, unexpected growth in the GDPs of Germany and France -- 0.3% in the second quarter for both economies -- fueled optimism that manufacturing in the E.U. had found a bottom. The euro also spiked on the news, and as the dollar weakened against the European currency, traders moved to buy metals.

Among the leading gainers on the equities side Thursday was

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Alcoa Corporation Report

, the giant aluminum producer. Shares of the Dow component gained as much as 6% before settling back some. In late afternoon trading, the stock was changing hands at $13.60, up 64 cents, or 5%.

Copper plays also advanced.

Freeport McMoRan

(FCX) - Get Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. Report

added $2.40, or 3.8%, to $65.38, while

Southern Copper

(PCU)

gained $1.10, or 4%, to $28.43.

The triumvirate of global iron-ore giants all registered moderate gains in Thursday's New York session. American Depositary Receipts of

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BHP Billiton

(BHP) - Get BHP Group Ltd. Report

, which beat analyst expectations with its second-quarter profit Wednesday, were up $1.31, or 2%, to $64.51.

Vale

(VALE) - Get Vale SA Report

rose 34 cents, or 1.7%, to $20.61, while

Rio Tinto

(RTP) - Get Reinvent Technology Partners Class A Report

jumped $5.91, or 3.8%, to $161.74.

Also Thursday, the Chinese government, locked for months in tense iron-ore price negotiations with the three mining behemoths, made remarks that signaled a possible easing of its hard-line stance. China had been holding out for a 45% price cut, even though ore extractors had earlier inked deals with Japanese and Korean steelmakers for price cuts of about 30%.

Elsewhere in the metals world, gold stocks moved higher during the session.

Kinross Gold

(KGC) - Get Kinross Gold Corporation Report

, which missed Wall Street targets Wednesday despite posting strong year-over-year gains in revenue and profit, saw its

New York Stock Exchange

-listed shares inch up 13 cents to $19.60.

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Newmont Corporation Report

gained 68 cents, or 1.68%, to $41.15;

Goldcorp

(GG)

rose 59 cents, or 1.66%, to $36.03;

Yamana Gold

(AUY) - Get Yamana Gold Inc. Report

advanced 10 cents, or 1%, to $9.12; and

Agnico-Eagle Mines

(AEM) - Get Agnico Eagle Mines Limited Report

was up 84 cents, or 1.5%, to $56.78.

-- Reported by Scott Eden in New York

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