By Shihoko Goto — Exclusive to Copper Investing News
Bolstered by growing optimis m about the global economy, particularly the US job market, which continues to expand, copper reached its highest level in 2012 this week. Also giving the red metal a push are expectations that Beijing will take concrete steps to help China avoid a hard landing. However, concerns linger that a steady rebound worldwide may not occur, especially in Europe. Earlier in the week, copper reached above $8,700 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange as China reported that its manufacturing sector had gained strength. The Purchasing Managers' Index rose to a one-year high of 53.1 in March, suggesting that policies taken since late last year to keep the economic engine revving are working. Expectations remain high that Beijing will either ease monetary policy or loosen bank reserve requirements to ensure that the world's largest consumer of copper will avoid a hard landing. However, that euphoria has somewhat abated, in part due to the unveiling of the Federal Reserve's latest minutes, which revealed that the US is unlikely to receive further monetary easing any time soon. Certainly, the US economy appears to have found its footing; the latest weekly unemployment claims fell to the lowest level in four years, down 6,000 to 357,000, according to the US Department of Labor Thursday. Market eyes are already looking ahead though to the monthly national jobs data that is to be released before the opening bell Friday for further clues on the state of the US economy. Europe continues to weigh down market sentiment, as any expectations that the continent could take a breather from worrying about the state of its economy were quashed by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. The central banker dismissed any plans for the ECB to start planning for a retreat from providing emergency relief. "Given the present conditions of output and unemployment, which is at historical high, any exit strategy talking for the time being is premature," Draghi said. Late Thursday, COMEX copper for May delivery was up 0.2 percent at $3.79 a pound, while copper on the LME closed up $11 at $8,361 a tonne.