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Copper held steady on Thursday as traders awaited US economic data that could offer more clues on the Federal Reserve’s rate-hike path and prospects for metals demand, while a week-long Lunar New Year holiday in top consumer China kept volumes thin.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was flat at $9,319 a tonne, as of 0335 GMT. Markets in India and Australia were also closed on Thursday for a holiday.

The dollar languished near an eight-month low against its peers as a gloomy US corporate earnings season stoked recession fears. A weaker dollar makes the US currency-priced commodity more attractive for those holding other currencies. “Very minimal price action due to no participants from China because of holidays,” a Singapore-based metals trader said. “There are lots of talks about how physical demand doesn’t support the price level.

So that will eventually show up when financial conditions tighten, which is the case for the rest of 2023 at least in the United States.“ The US Commerce Department is set to release its initial advance fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimates at 1330 GMT.

The US central bank’s two-day policy meeting starts next week, and traders have priced in a 25-basis-point interest rate hike, a step down from the 50-bp and 75-bp increases seen last year.

Copper slips on firmer dollar, demand uncertainty

On the supply side, copper production in Chile, the world’s largest producer of the red metal, will grow at a slower rate this decade than previously hoped, a government report seen by Reuters showed.

Social unrest in Peru, the world’s second-biggest copper producer, has also raised fears of disruption at mines. In other metals, aluminium eased 0.2% to $2,653.50 a tonne, lead was up 0.4% at $2,169, zinc gained 0.3% to $3,460 and tin slipped 1.1% to $30,515.

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