METALS-Copper gains on dollar, Greece, US fiscal woes lurk
* Greece international lenders clash publicly over funding * China Oct. copper production up 8.6 pct year-on-year * China aluminium output up on state buying plans By Silvia Antonioli and Maytaal Angel LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Copper rebounded on Tuesday as the dollar eased against the euro but the metal used in construction remained vulnerable due to the unresolved debt crisis in Greece and the looming fiscal cliff in the United States. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended at $7,680 a tonne, up 0.55 percent from a close of $7,638 on Monday. The euro fell to a two-month low against the dollar before recovering, after a German newspaper said Germany wanted to bundle Greek aid into a single payment of more than 44 billion euros. But the single currency remained vulnerable to uncertainty over funding for Athens, after its international lenders, the EU and the International Monetary Fund, clashed publicly over how Greece can bring its debts down. A weak dollar makes dollar-priced metals cheaper for European and other non-U.S. investors. "We keep getting positive data from the U.S. and China but the market is worried about Greece," said T-Commodity consultant Gianclaudio Torlizzi. "Once again the EU is showing how immature it is at handling the debt crisis: after the Madrid worries now Greece has come back to scare markets." Also helping metals, U.S. stocks, seen by some as a proxy for economic growth, rose off earlier losses, thanks in part to gains in retail stocks. Downside risks were high though, with concerns about a possible U.S. recession if no deal is reached about automatic budget cuts and tax hikes that will take effect early next year. Metals prices, however, are likely to see some support from recent data showing the economy of China, the world's biggest metals consumer, was recovering and likely to meet its growth target for the year. China consumed about 40 percent of global production of copper last year. CHINESE PRODUCTION GROWTH WEIGHS On the downside however, data from China's National Bureau of Statistics showed the country produced 520,000 tonnes of refined copper in October, an 8.6 percent year-on-year increase. China's aluminium output also rose significantly, up by 20.3 percent year-on-year to 1.72 million tonnes in October. "Numbers out of China continue to point to robust gains in local metal production, meaning that the rate of imports could slow down in the months ahead," said INTL analyst Ed Meir. State-backed research firm Antaike said China's output of refined copper would continue to grow, albeit at a lower pace than its production of ores and concentrates. It also predicted the era of double digit copper demand growth in China was over. "Chinese reliance on imported copper concentrates will increase by 10 percent annually in the future... net import of refined copper will be stable at around 2.1 million tonnes annually," it said. On a brighter note though, China's State Reserves Bureau (SRB) has issued tenders to buy 160,000 tonnes of primary aluminium and 150,000 tonnes of zinc ingots from local smelters, the first clear sign Beijing is resuming metals stockpiling. Aluminium closed up at $1,983 a tonne from $1,968 on Monday, while zinc, used to galvanize steel, ended up at $1,934 a tonne from $1,931. Battery material lead closed down at $2,151 a tonne from $2,160 a tonne, while tin ended up at $20,400 from a last bid of $20,350 a tonne on Monday. Nickel closed down at $16,050 a tonne from $16,055. Metal Prices at 1729 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 347.80 1.00 +0.29 334.65 3.93 LME Alum 1985.00 17.00 +0.86 2230.00 -10.99 LME Cu 7680.00 42.00 +0.55 7375.00 4.14 LME Lead 2151.00 -9.00 -0.42 2432.00 -11.55 LME Nickel 16050.00 -5.00 -0.03 18525.00 -13.36 LME Tin 20395.00 95.00 +0.47 16950.00 20.32 LME Zinc 1934.00 3.00 +0.16 2560.00 -24.45 SHFE Alu 15265.00 35.00 +0.23 17160.00 -11.04 SHFE Cu* 55420.00 -220.00 -0.40 59900.00 -7.48 SHFE Zin 14925.00 105.00 +0.71 21195.00 -29.58 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07
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