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LONDON: Copper prices jumped to their highest in over two weeks on Friday in a volatile session as investors cheered moves by top metals consumer China to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

At one point, copper sunk into the red after strong US jobs data initially raised doubts about an expected slowdown in the pace of interest rate hikes, but copper prices later rebounded.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange shot up 1.4% to $8,455.50 a tonne by 1730 GMT, the highest since Nov. 15. LME copper has gained 5.5% so far this week.

US Comex copper futures gained 0.8% to $3.85 a lb.

Investors welcomed news that top metals consumer China continued to relax COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine rules in some cities on Friday.

China’s COVID policies, the world’s toughest, have stifled everything from domestic consumption to factory output and global supply chains.

“The weaker dollar has helped, but there are also signs that China may have to revise its zero-COVID policy and that is also good for the metals markets,” said Nitesh Shah, commodity strategist at WisdomTree.

The dollar index was also on a rollercoaster ride on Friday, holding near 16-week lows in the morning, spiking in the afternoon on strong US data, but weakening again later.

The softening helped to boost metals, making commodities priced in the US currency cheaper for buyers using other currencies.

Data showed that US employers hired more workers than expected in November and raised wages, but analysts said that will probably not stop the Federal Reserve from slowing the pace of its interest rate hikes starting this month.

Among other metals, aluminium gained 2.7% to $2,551 a tonne, nickel surged 4.6% to $28,865, zinc added 0.6% to $3,096.50, lead gained 1.4% to $2,203.50 and tin climbed 1.4% to $23,650.

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