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METALS-Copper falls on strong dollar, China growth worries

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Jul 09, 2013 16:50 hrs

* China CPI accelerated more than expected in June

* Freeport resumes copper ore shipments from Indonesia

* Nickel hits fresh four-year low

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - Copper fell on Tuesday as the dollar rose and Chinese inflation data reinforced worries about slowing growth in the world's top copper consumer, though risk appetite in the wider markets and oversold conditions kept losses in check.

Copper, down nearly 15 percent this year, fell on Friday after strong U.S. jobs data bolstered concerns that the Federal Reserve could start winding down its stimulus programme as early as September.

After steadying on Monday, the metal resumed its downtrend after data from China showed its annual consumer inflation accelerated more than expected in June.

The dollar also rose towards recent three-year highs versus a basket of other currencies. A strong dollar makes dollar-priced metals more expensive for non-U.S. investors.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed at $6,730 a tonne, down from $6,830 on Monday. Copper has struggled to get any traction after inching away from a three-year low of $6,602 a tonne hit on June 25.

"The Chinese CPI reduces the likelihood of China doing more stimulus," said William Adams, head of research at BaseMetals.com.

"We're moving into a market surplus and copper is well above the cost of production. Overall I'd be neutral to bearish for copper, but a lot of negative news has been priced in and that might prompt short-covering (in the near term)," he added.

Also weighing on copper, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc has resumed copper concentrate shipments from its mine in Grasberg, Indonesia, after a near two-month stoppage caused by a tunnel cave-in that killed 28 people, Bloomberg reported.

Also, copper concentrate shipments to China from Mongolia's giant Oyu Tolgoi mine began on Tuesday. At full tilt, the mine is expected to produce around 450,000 tonnes of copper.

In the wider markets, world shares extended gains, spurred by a good start to the U.S. earnings season and by a deal to give Greece the latest 6.8 billion euro instalment of its bailout.

But the optimism had yet to help copper, with investors still nervous ahead of more Chinese data expected to show growth is grinding towards a 23-year low. Chinese trade numbers are due on July 10 and GDP on July 15.

HEADWINDS

Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note they believed that expectations regarding the Federal Reserve reining in its bond buying along with dollar strength could sustain headwinds for industrial metals, though they noted speculative net shorts in copper are at all-time high.

"We expect China's copper imports to recover modestly," the note said.

China's imports of copper are likely to have extended gains in June from the previous month as falling prices spurred purchases, traders said. But slowing growth means shipments for the first six months of 2013 probably stayed in the red.

In other metals traded, tin closed at $19,305 from $19,450, while nickel was at $13,325 from $13,430, having hit a fresh four-year low at $13,205 as LME stocks remained near a recent record high of 193,776 tonnes.

Refined tin shipments from Indonesia, the world's top exporter of the metal, rose 20 percent in June to 11,111.38 tonnes, from 9,242.05 tonnes in May, a trade ministry official said.

Aluminium closed at $1,790 a tonne from $1,803.

Alcoa Inc, the largest U.S. aluminium producer, still sees global demand for aluminium products growing 7 percent this year, signalling a potential price rise for the metal as bulging Chinese inventories begin to dwindle.

Zinc closed at $1,869 a tonne from $1,880, and lead at $2,307 from $2,071.



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