METALS-Copper falls as strong dollar, Syria dent risk appetite

Last Updated: Wed, Sep 04, 2013 10:10 hrs

* Obama wins backing from key figures for Syria strike

* Dollar hovers near six week high versus currency basket

* Coming up: US mortgage market index at 1100 GMT

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Copper fell nearly 1 percent on Wednesday as encouraging U.S. economic data reinforced prospects for the Federal Reserve to start stimulus tapering, while investors remained cautious as a potential U.S. strike on Syria looked more likely.

Falls were limited, however, by improved prospects for global growth after a string of upbeat factory activity reports led by top consumer China and the United States.

"All financial markets are reacting to what's going on in the Middle East, but for copper what's more important is the fact that China is growing at a fairly solid pace," said Karim Cherif, commodities analyst at Credit Suisse.

He added, however: "(Overall) the situation is not particularly positive. There's going to be a surplus this year and in the next few years. We expect the market to remain in the $7,000-7,300 a tonne range over the next 12 months."

Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.92 percent to $7,178 a tonne by 0926 GMT. Copper prices are consolidating after falling to three-week lows of $7,081.50 a tonne last week. They have been trading in a broader $7,080-$7,420 band for most of the past month.

President Barack Obama has won the backing of key figures in the U.S. Congress, including Republicans, in his call for limited U.S. strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Also hurting copper, the U.S. dollar hovered close to a six-week peak versus a currency basket, as encouraging U.S. economic data reinforced prospects of the Federal Reserve trimming its stimulus in September.

A strong dollar makes dollar-priced metals costlier for European and other non-U.S. investors.

Investors have this week been treated to data showing unexpected strength at factories in the UK, Europe and China, which consumes about 40 percent of the world's copper.

Data out on Tuesday also showed a surge in manufacturing activity in the U.S., though the positive impact of those numbers has been dented by fears that they strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve to taper its stimulus programme.

"The lift from China (data) should have been substantially more, but you've got emerging market currency concerns and Syria engulfing confidence," said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of Sydney-based commodity research firm Barratt's Bulletin.

On Wednesday new data revealed the factory activity pickup spreading to the all-important service sector in China, where August activity hit its highest level for five months.

Investors are now bracing for a U.S. jobs report due on Friday which might prove decisive in determining whether the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to dial back its bond purchases in mid-September, though the decision has been complicated by Syria.

In other metals traded, tin rose 0.12 percent to $21,600 a tonne.

Indonesia's top tin exporter PT Timah said it has stopped tin shipments and declared force majeure since new regulations forcing domestic producers to trade on a local exchange came into force last Friday.

Indonesia is the world's biggest exporter of tin and the shortfall is already feeding into global prices, with cash tin on the LME soaring to the highest premium against the benchmark contract in 11 months on Wednesday.

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