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US stocks open higher as copper hits 3.5-year high

Copper hit a more than three-and-a-half year high Wednesday after China reported a 19 percent year-on-year increase in imports of the metal in November, according to Reuters.

Copper hit a high of $3.302 a pound on the New York Mercantile exchange, its highest since Feb. 2014.

“Obviously commodities futures have been beaten down all year. It’s kind of encouraging to see this late-in-the-year resurgence,” said John Caruso, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

“I still think stocks are probably going to grind higher in the next week or two,” Caruso said, adding he expects some profit-taking in January.

However, over the first 11 months of 2017, China’s copper imports are down more than 10 percent from the same period in 2016, the newswire said. A private survey of Chinese businesses called the China Beige Book also said late Tuesday New York time that a slower pace of growth in hiring and manufacturing orders, among other concerning factors, point to a likely slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy next year.

The Shanghai composite closed 0.9 percent lower, while the Nikkei 225 gained 0.08 percent.

In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 climbed to an all-time high. Major European markets were closed Tuesday and Monday, and U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Christmas holiday.

U.S. stocks closed lower Tuesday, dragged down by a decline in Apple shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 posted five straight weeks of gains last week after President Donald Trump on Friday signed a bill that cuts the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. The president was able to sign the bill after Congress approved another bill to keep the federal government funded through Jan. 19.

The Dow is on pace for its first nine-month winning streak since 1959 and the S&P is on track for its first nine-month winning streak since 1983.

In U.S. economic reports, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 122.1 in December from 128.6 in November.

Signed contracts to buy existing homes rose 0.8 percent in November from the same month last year, the first annual gain since June of this year, according to a seasonally adjusted monthly index of pending home sales from the National Association of Realtors. However, the index was up just 0.2 percent from October.

The Treasury is set to hold a 5-year note auction in the afternoon.

Treasury yields fell, with the 2-year yield near 1.91 percent after hitting a nine-year high overnight of 1.927 percent. The 10-year yield traded near 2.45 percent.

The euro topped $1.19 to hit its highest against the U.S. dollar in more than three weeks.

U.S. crude oil prices traded 0.3 percent lower near $59.78 a barrel after touching $60 on Tuesday for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

Gold futures traded mildly higher near $1,289.50 an ounce.

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