Copper prices have ended slightly higher at the close of London Metal Exchange (LME) trade, stilted by investor caution ahead of a batch of closely watched macro-economic news and data later in the week.
LME trading conditions were thin as investors awaited the release of the US Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) latest meeting minutes on Wednesday(US time), manufacturing data from top metals consumer China on Thursday and an annual central bankers' meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the end of the week.
While the Chinese data will be eyed for clues about the outlook for base metal demand, the FOMC minutes and the Jackson Hole meeting will be closely watched for any comments regarding the Federal Reserve's plans for tapering its economic stimulus program.
"Trading conditions will likely remain jittery ahead of (the FOMC) release, but we could see a modest recovery once the minutes are out, especially if the Fed's tone remains noncommittal," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.
While the Fed is widely expected to start scaling back its stimulus efforts in the months ahead, the central bank has so far held back on providing a specific timeline for such a move.
Base metal prices have benefited from the Fed's efforts to boost economic growth in recent years, due to their wide use in industry.
At the PM kerb close on Tuesday, LME three-month copper was up 0.2 per cent at $US7,320 a metric ton.
Aluminium was down 0.03 per cent at $US1,914.50 a ton.
A weaker greenback, which makes the US dollar-denominated assets like metals more affordable to other currency holders, provided some support to base metal prices in the latter part of Tuesday's session, said analysts.
On a technical basis, copper's price outlook remains gloomy while the metal trades below its May high at $US7,533.75 a ton, said Commerzbank analyst Axel Rudolph.
"Below here we will maintain a longer term negative bias," he said.