NEW YORK - U.S. copper futures headed higher at the open on Tuesday, recovering a portion of the prior session's steep losses, as equity markets regained their footing and manufacturing and housing data suggested the economic recovery was on track.
* Benchmark copper for December delivery HGZ9 firmed 5.80 cents, or 2 percent, to $2.8845 a lb by 10:23 a.m. EDT (1423 GMT) on the New York Mercantile Exchange's COMEX division.
* Range from $2.8310 to $2.9070.
* COMEX estimated copper volumes at 9,951 lots by 9 a.m.
* Copper advance tracks rebound in global equity markets after overseas data showed manufacturing in China expanded at its fastest pace in 16 months in August.
* Copper advance accelerated after data showed the U.S. manufacturing sector grew in August in the first month of expansion in more than a year and a half.
* A 2.3 percent rise in private residential construction in July overshadows 0.2 percent drop in total U.S. construction spending.
* Both reports are encouraging readings. I'm particularly encouraged by new orders and spread between new orders and shipments. The manufacturing recession is over. This is not necessarily a one-month event. This suggests manufacturing activity will be picking up. - Jonathan Basile, economist with Credit Suisse in New York.
* London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouse stocks rose by 1,025 tonnes to 299,950 tonnes on Tuesday.
* COMEX copper warehouse stocks went up 228 short tons to 53,209 short tons as of Monday.
* LME copper for three-months delivery MCU3 was last at $6,345 a tonne, down $130 from Friday's settlement. The LME was closed on Monday for holiday. (Reporting by Chris Kelly; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)