METALS-Bright demand prospects lift copper, eyes on Fed

Mon Aug 9, 2010 3:13pm EDT

 * Inventory flows, China news brighten demand outlook
 * Coming up: U.S. FOMC policy announcement on Tuesday
 (Changes headline, updates with New York closing copper price,
adds New York dateline/byline and analyst comments)
 By Chris Kelly and Michael Taylor
 NEW YORK/LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Copper prices ended
slightly higher on Monday, boosted by expectations of healthy
demand from top-consumer China, but gains were limited in front of
a U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy announcement on Tuesday.
 "I think a lot of the markets today are just sort of on hold
... the Fed meeting will be an important one," said Frank Lesh,
broker and futures analyst with Future Path Trading in Chicago.
 (For a preview of the Fed meeting, see [ID:nN06209685])
 Copper for September delivery HGU0 on the COMEX metals
division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 1.10 cents to
settle at $3.3540 per lb, after dealing from $3.3360 to $3.3940.
 Last week, the key September contract hit a three-month peak
of $3.4105.
 On the London Metal Exchange, benchmark copper CMCU3 ended
up $55 at $7,425 a tonne, near an early session high of $7,489.
 Sentiment got a lift from overnight comments by a leading
Chinese government economist who said China's economy will enjoy a
strong, stable second half, putting it on course for full-year
growth of about 10-11 percent. [ID:nTOE67800E]
 "That's a little hotter than original estimates of around 8 or
9 percent," Future Path's Lesh said.
 "When you're the biggest commodity buyer and user in the
world, you matter to the market."
 China is the world's largest copper consumer, accounting for
more than 30 percent of the global market estimated at around 19
million tonnes this year.
 The market is waiting for a raft of data from China this week,
including July imports and exports. ECONCN
 However, traders said there were doubts about the strength of
demand for industrial metals in the United States, the world's
largest economy, after a weak monthly jobs report suggested growth
could be faltering. [ID:nN05598486]
 That is one reason why the dollar was weaker, making metals
cheaper for holders of other currencies. [USD/]
 ALUMINUM CONTANGO NARROWS
 Aiding overall sentiment in recent months has been a growing
trend of falling LME inventories and canceled warrants -- material
earmarked for delivery from LME warehouses.
 Copper stocks fell 2,150 tonnes to 410,475 tonnes, having
fallen from 6-1/2 year highs of 555,075 tonnes in mid-February.
 Aluminum CMAL3 closed at $2,182 a tonne from Friday's last
bid at $2,190. LME stocks for the metal slipped 6,025 tonnes to
4.39 million tonnes after hitting a record high above 4.6 million
in late January. <0#LME-STOCKS>
 BNP Paribas expects the aluminum market to see a 2.20 million
tonne surplus this year from 1.95 million tonnes last year. It
estimates global demand at 39.55 million tonnes in 2010 from 35
million tonnes in 2009.
 Worries about near-term supplies have narrowed the contango --
the discount between the cash and three-month contracts MAL0-3
-- to about $9 a tonne from $33 a tonne mid-June.
 In other metals, nickel touched $22,898 a tonne and zinc saw
$2,175 -- their highest levels since May 13.
 Zinc CMZN3 ended at $2,150 a tonne from $2,129 on Friday and
nickel CMNI3 at $22,800 from $22,075.
 Colin Hamilton, analyst at Macquarie, said the current nickel
prices may not be sustainable.
 "We are seeing the rising nickel price reincentivise some
nickel pig iron production in China ... and the stainless steel
market is softening," he said.
 Lead CMPB3 closed up $35 at $2,200 a tonne  and tin CMSN3
was untraded at the close but bid at $21,300 from a last bid of
$20,725 on Friday.
 Zinc canceled warrants as of Friday were at 64,575 tonnes
compared with 20,150 tonnes on Aug. 4, or 10 percent or total LME
stocks at 617,700 tonnes.
 Tin canceled warrants account for 10 percent of total LME
stocks at 14,895 tonnes. It earlier touched $21,500, its highest
level since August 2008. Prices are up about 26 percent so far
this year, with further gains expected. [ID:nLDE66I1UK]
 Metal Prices at 1828 GMT
 COMEX copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in
yuan/T
 Metal            Last      Change  Pct Move   End 2009   Ytd Pct
                                                         move
 COMEX Cu       336.25        1.95     +0.58     334.65      0.48
 LME Alum      2180.00      -23.00     -1.04    2230.00     -2.24
 LME Cu        7410.00       40.00     +0.54    7375.00      0.47
 LME Lead      2190.00       25.00     +1.15    2432.00     -9.95
 LME Nickel   22775.00      700.00     +3.17   18525.00     22.94
 LME Tin      21250.00      775.00     +3.79   16950.00     25.37
 LME Zinc      2142.00       13.00     +0.61    2560.00    -16.33
 SHFE Alu     15615.00       55.00     +0.35   17160.00     -9.00
 SHFE Cu*     58250.00      440.00     +0.76   59900.00     -2.75
 SHFE Zin     17610.00      335.00     +1.94   21195.00    -16.91
** Benchmark month for COMEX copper
 * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN
 SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07
 (Additional reporting by Pratima Desai in London; editing by Jim
Marshall)