METALS-Copper sags to 3-month low, China worries weigh
* LME copper falls further below $8,000, Shanghai slides * Stronger dollar also weighing, euro at one-month low * Coming Up: U.S. NAHB housing market index, 1400 GMT (Updates prices, adds quotes and details) By Carrie Ho SHANGHAI, April 16 (Reuters) - Copper fell further below $8,000 a tonne to hit fresh three-month lows on Monday, pressured by growing concern about slower demand from top consumer China, with Shanghai prices sliding more than 2 percent. A stronger dollar also weighed on the metal, as rising Spanish bond yields which revived worries over the debt-plagued euro zone, dragged down the euro to one-month lows. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell as low as $7,885.25 a tonne, a level not seen since Jan. 13. By 0547 GMT, it was down 1.2 percent at $7,894.25, adding to a 2.8 percent slide on Friday, when the Chinese data was released. The data, which showed the Chinese economy growing an annual 8.1 percent in the first quarter, its weakest pace in nearly three years, fuelled a rash of selling, said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of BarrattBulletin, a Sydney-based commodity research firm. "We have broken through some pretty heavy support levels in copper. When this happens, you'll see some funds selling," Barratt said. Copper was up as much as 15 percent this year when it hit a high of $8,765 in February as investors banked on firm Chinese demand and tight global supplies. That year-to-date gain has thinned to less than 4 percent on Monday. LME's losses spread to Shanghai. The most-active July copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 2.3 percent to 56,700 yuan ($9,000) a tonne, not far off the session trough of 56,650 yuan, its weakest since Jan. 11. So concerned were market players about the shaky global economic outlook that they shrugged off China's weekend move to let the yuan trade more freely against the dollar, which economists say suggests Beijing is optimistic the economy is strong enough to withstand currency movements. "Investors are not outright pessimistic but just wary. This will cause copper prices to fluctuate in the near term, while they try to eke out new technical ranges," said Orient Futures derivatives director Andy Du. Soaring bond yields in Spain added to the gloom. Spain's banks increased their reliance on cheap loans from the European Central Bank in March, borrowing almost double what they did in February. The dollar rose to its highest in a month versus the euro as Spain's soaring bond yields rekindled worries about the fragile state of the euro zone's economy, sending Asian shares lower too. Spain's government bond yields rose and the cost of insuring its debt hit an all-time high on Friday, as record borrowing by its banks from the European Central Bank highlighted fears about the country's finances before it tests market appetite for its debt on Thursday. Base metals prices at 0547 GMT Metal Last Change Pct Move YTD pct chg LME Cu 7894.25 -95.75 -1.20 3.87 SHFE CU FUT JUL2 56700 -1330 -2.29 2.42 HG COPPER MAY2 357.15 -5.55 -1.53 3.94 LME Alum 2070.00 -10.00 -0.48 2.48 SHFE AL FUT JUL2 16065 -95 -0.59 1.39 LME Zinc 1985.00 1.00 +0.05 7.59 SHFE ZN FUT JUN2 15380 -185 -1.19 3.95 LME Nickel 18033.00 -272.00 -1.49 -3.62 LME Lead 2041.00 -24.00 -1.16 0.29 SHFE PB FUT 15575.00 -145.00 -0.92 1.90 LME Tin 22031.00 -174.00 -0.78 14.74 LME/Shanghai arb^ 1544 Shanghai and COMEX contracts show most active months ^ LME 3-month copper in yuan, including 17 pct VAT, minus SHFE third month ($1 = 6.3030 Chinese yuan) (Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.)
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