Copper up but set for weakest month since May
LONDON (Reuters) - London copper rose on Wednesday, buoyed by a softer dollar, but gains were limited with U.S. stock markets falling after a two-day closure for the storm Sandy and as metals investors stayed wary about demand from China.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange ended at $7,759.50 a tonne, up 0.51 percent from Tuesday's close, having earlier risen by 1.55 percent to mark the biggest gain in six weeks.
The metal was still on track for a monthly loss of around 5 percent, its steepest drop since May.
Copper, which has given up nearly all of a September rally that followed central bank stimulus announcements, was bolstered by the softer dollar, which makes metals priced in the U.S. unit cheaper for traders holding other currencies. .DXY <FRX/>
The euro was headed for its third straight month of gains, but uncertainty about the heavily indebted eurozone economies was set to limit further strength and weigh on metals as well.
Elsewhere, there was little 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.
"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.
Looking ahead, the market will be watching the release on Thursday of China's official manufacturing gauge, and a monthly U.S. jobs report for October is scheduled for release on Friday.
"We doubt much of anything will happen this week in most markets, as with the nonfarm payroll numbers out on Friday and US elections approaching next week, investors will gravitate to the sidelines and likely defer from taking any major positions," INTL FCStone said in a note.
FLURRY IN TIN WARRANTS
Traders in Asia said copper was stuck in a range, with day-trading on technical levels between the 90-day ($7,804) and 100-day ($7,768) moving averages, with rallies likely to lead to light selling in Asia.
"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," one trader based in Shanghai said.
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.
LME three-month tin gained 0.63 percent to end at $19,925 a tonne, having briefly edged above resistance of $20,000 earlier after two days of failing at that level.
Triland Metals said in a note there seemed to be a flurry in the tin 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 closed at $1,906 a tonne, $3 lower than Tuesday's finish, while zinc added 0.81 percent to $1,870 a tonne.
"Aluminum metal bounced back from its recent lows yesterday, however the market has been happy to sell into the bounce it seems. Zinc has also struggled to make upwards progress," Standard Bank said in a note.
Lead gained 1.27 percent to end at $2,068 and nickel climbed 0.90 percent to $16,195.
Market conditions remain tight in lead, as reflected by the $6 premium for November over December lead, and the fact that 40 percent of total LME stocks are booked to leave warehouses, while the rest are mostly in locations where there is a multi-month queue to withdraw metal.
(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Anthony Barker)
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