Copper prices on the rise Copper traders have grown increasingly bullish on the commodity's future growth prospects as global demand continues to outpace supply.

Copper demand has surged in both the U.S. and China over the past few years, its rise fueled by an uptick in economic output in the former and ongoing construction projects in the latter. Bloomberg reports that traders are emboldened by such a confluence of circumstances, and they are forecasting prices will continue to rise this year.

Global copper inventories monitored by the world's largest metals exchange are currently at their lowest levels in more than 2.5 years, with those tracked by the London Metal Exchange poised to decline for the fifth consecutive month. Of the 29 analysts polled by the news provider, 14 said they believed the metal would gain in value next week, with 10 remaining neutral.

Economic reports recently released in both the U.S. and China have also fueled analysts' bullish outlook on the commodity. Jobless claims in the U.S. have fallen to their lowest level in years, and Chinese officials said late last week it planned to lower banks' reserve requirements in an effort to stimulate economic activity. What's more, copper sourcing has become increasingly difficult for a large number of companies in the wake of falling stockpiles, which according to Barclays Capital will likely cause a shortage of the commodity for the third year in a row.

Demand for copper tends to ebb and flow with the strength of the worldwide economy. China's rapid ascent over the past few decades has fueled demand for the metal throughout the Asian nation, as it is used in construction and the manufacturing of appliances and electronics equipment, among other consumer items. Some Chinese companies have had such difficulty securing copper supplies that they have turned toward procurement consultants and strategic sourcing experts in their pursuit of the commodity.

Amid surging investor sentiment, copper prices closed higher on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Copper rose 1.5 percent to close at $3.86 per pound. The metal has jumped 10 percent on the London Metal Exchange thus far this year, rising to approximately $8,358 per metric ton.

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