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Metals Edge Higher on Weaker Dollar

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03/17/2017 | 08:07pm CEST
By Ed Ballard and Stephanie Yang 

Metals prices rose Friday as hints of a slower pace of U.S. interest-rate increases continued to weigh on the U.S. dollar.

Gold for April delivery settled up 0.3% at $1,230.20 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, closing at a two-week high. Copper for May delivery rose 0.5% to $2.6915 a pound, also at its highest level in two weeks.

The WSJ Dollar Index was 0.2% lower, making dollar-priced assets cheaper for holders of other currencies, having fallen more than 1% since the U.S. Federal Reserve lifted interest rates on Wednesday. The commentary accompanying the rate rise was less assertive about the prospect for more increases this year than dollar bulls had expected.

"It's a dollar story based on the commentary around Fed action," said Nitesh Shah, commodities strategist at ETF Securities. "It was less hawkish than people expected."

Looking ahead, he said the dollar will likely continue to dominate commodities markets next week, which brings speeches from Fed officials including Chairwoman Janet Yellen, as well as data that will shed light on the strength of the world's largest economy, including durable goods orders and a purchasing managers index.

Copper prices should also benefit from supply disruptions at mines in Chile and Peru, analysts said. About 8% to 10% of global copper supply has been shut down or disrupted in the past six weeks, according to Barclays.

"We think that the copper market is on the precipice of severe market tightness resulting from supply outages, but it is not there yet," said Dane Davis, analyst at Barclays, in a Friday note.

Write to Ed Ballard at ed.ballard@wsj.com and Stephanie Yang at stephanie.yang@wsj.com

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