Copper prices are rising after two reports boosted optimism that the U.S. economic recovery is gaining traction.

U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The Labor Department also reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week.

The price of copper, which has a range of industrial applications, typically tracks the outlook for global economic growth.

Copper for March delivery rose 5.5 cents to $3.662 per pound in trading Thursday.

Gold, silver, and platinum also rose. Palladium was little changed.

Wheat, corn, and soybeans futures all fell. Energy futures rose.

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