Copper jumps over 1 percent, set for weakest month since May

LONDON Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:43am EDT

A labourer works at a copper processing factory in Yingtan, Jiangxi province March 1, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

A labourer works at a copper processing factory in Yingtan, Jiangxi province March 1, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

LONDON (Reuters) - London copper bounced more than 1 percent as the dollar weakened on Wednesday and short-term speculators switched to risk-on trading, but the metal was on track for a monthly loss as uncertainly persisted about demand from top consumer China.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange jumped 1.2 percent to $7,814.50 a tonne by 1119 GMT, extending modest gains from Tuesday after recovering from a two-month low hit on Monday.

Copper, which has given up nearly all its September rally on the back of central bank stimulus announcements, was bolstered by the soft dollar against the euro, which makes metals priced in the U.S. currency cheaper for Europeans. <FRX/>

The European currency got support from a well-received Italian debt auction on Tuesday and improved economic data, including higher German retail sales.

Metals also were bolstered by a recovery in stock markets as Wall Street was due to open higher after a two-day closure from super storm Sandy. <MKTS/GLOB>

There was not much confidence that copper's rebound would gather much momentum ahead of the U.S. presidential election next Tuesday and the Chinese leadership transition during a meeting that starts two days later, analysts and traders said.

"I can't imagine anybody's going to be taking any big positions either way and I can't imagine the dollar's going to do a huge amount either - everything's going to range trade ahead of those two events next week," said Wiktor Bielski, global head of commodities research at VTB Capital.

"I think the whole risk-on, risk-off switching is probably largely being driven by fast money - not really by any of the macro hedge funds or institutional investors - just basically short term traders."

Worries about metals demand in China, which accounted for about 40 percent of global copper consumption last year, weighed on copper during October, when it is on track for a loss of 5 percent. That would be copper's steepest drop since falling nearly 12 percent in May.

The market will be watching the release on Thursday of China's official manufacturing gauge while a monthly U.S. jobs report for October is scheduled for release on Friday.

FLURRY IN TIN WARRANTS

Traders in Asia said copper was stuck in a range, day trading on technical levels between the 90- ($7,804) and 100- ($7,768) day moving averages, with rallies likely to be lightly sold in Asia.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, the most-traded February copper contract rose 0.67 percent to close at 56,860 yuan ($9,100) a tonne.

"There is not much conviction in China with the discount from paper to physical (prices) remaining large. Still, Chinese are reluctant to sell aggressively for now," said one trader based in Shanghai.

China's appetite for copper imports may fall next year as domestic production of refined copper rises, an analyst at state-backed research firm Antaike said this week.

In other metals, LME three-month tin rose 0.9 percent to $19,970 a tonne, the third day the market has been turned back at resistance of $20,000.

Triland Metals said in a note there seemed to be a flurry in the warrant market in Asia as merchants checked the availability of material, potentially a sign of reduced producer activity below the $20,000 per tonne mark.

Of LME tin inventories, some 43 percent of the total stocks of 11,860 tonnes is cancelled and therefore not available to the market.

Aluminum ticked 0.3 percent higher to $1,915 a tonne, zinc added 0.5 percent to $1,864, lead gained 1.1 percent to $2,063.50 and nickel climbed 1.4 percent to $16,275.

(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton)

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