Shanghai copper futures surged to within a whisker of their upside limit on Tuesday, buoyed by signs that China's economy could start to recover in the first half of the year.

Shanghai copper futures SCFc3 rallied almost 5 percent from Monday's settlement to 26,480 yuan a tonne ($3,867) soon after the midday break, just 10 yuan short of their upside threshold. Benchmark copper MCU3 on the London Metal Exchange gained $82 to $3,267.

Sentiment was boosted by yuan interest rate swaps which rose sharply on the expectations of economic recovery, with the five-year yuan IRS heading for its biggest daily rise in at least 18 months. [ID:nSHA188503]

 (Reporting by Nick Trevethan; Editing by Michael Urquhart)© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved