The Asian nation is the globe's top consumer of the reddish metal, but economic data also indicated the country's exports and imports were underwhelming, which capped gains for the base metal.
The unexpected decision of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti opting to retire early also tempered the base metal's gains on Monday since the nation is a flashpoint of damaging tendencies imparted by the sovereign debt crisis.
China last month imported 13.5 percent more of the reddish metal as compared to the month prior. But that amount was augmented by the arrival of delayed shipments following a holiday that lasted one week. That indicated that demand for the metal was weak.
"The Chinese macro data was relatively good with a slight uptick in terms of industrial production, investment etc. and although the copper numbers were not particularly good themselves I think the sentiment is starting to turn a little bit," analyst Daniel Smith with Standard Chartered told the news source on Monday. "Our clients are turning somewhat more bullish from what we see, covering short positions. In the short term we are probably going to go higher but I don't see that much upside given the wider backdrop."
At 1:11 p.m. on Monday, copper futures gained 1.12 percent, a 0.041 cent rise to $3.704 per pound.
Retail sales, industrial output gain in China
November's retail sales and industrial output increased the most last month as compared to the previous eight months, according to economic data released over the weekend. But economic data released on Monday stated exports from the Asian nation slowed last month to 2.9 percent, which was much slower than anticipated.
The Wall Street Journal reports last month's industrial output was 10.1 percent higher than one year prior. That pushed past projections of 9.8 percent increases as well as October increases from the month prior, which amounted to 9.6 percent.
Consequently, copper futures rose to their top value since October 19.
The economic data supported "our view of a decent rebound in growth" during the final quarter of this year, states a client note opened by RBC Capital Markets traders, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Chinese economic ticking up?
The Asian nation imports about 40 percent of the world's copper demand and its economy has struggled through rough spots earlier this year.
The recent economic data suggests the nation might be bouncing back.
But the country also is poised to increase the pace of business activity via various methods of intervention.
"Since inflation saw only moderate growth, the Chinese government and the country's central bank still have further scope to undertake expansionary measures, which are likely to boost the economy," states a client note penned by Commerzbank analysts, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Losses to the U.S. dollar also proved to be beneficial to the price of copper futures.
Copper drives toward weekly gain extension
Bloomberg reports the reddish metal last week achieved its longest streak of weekly gains since this past January.
The driver last week was the U.S. Labor Department report, which was stronger than forecast. In turn, the economic data boosted optimism and suggested an increased amount of demand is likely to rear for base metals.
Last month saw employment figures climb by 146,000, the report stated. The jobless rate fell to its lowest figure in nearly 48 months.
"Markets are moving in reaction to the jobs report, and the idea is that we're finally in the mind-set that things are going to get better" for the economy, senior commodity broker Frank Cholly with RJO Futures in Chicago told the news source. "There are also signs of growth out of China."
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