METALS-Copper rallies on hopes for U.S. fiscal fix, weak dollar

Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:20pm EST

* Markets optimistic on U.S. fiscal cliff progress
    * Euro zone likely to give tentative go ahead for Greek aid
    * U.S. home resales climb in October

    By Maytaal Angel and Harpreet Bhal
    LONDON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Monday to its
highest price in more than two weeks as upbeat U.S. housing data
and signs lawmakers there would avert a looming fiscal crisis
encouraged expectations of economic growth and higher metals
demand.
    Also helping metals climb was a fall in the dollar to a near
two-week low against the euro, following news that euro zone
finance ministers will give a tentative go-ahead for the
disbursement of 44 billion euros in emergency loans to Greece. 
 
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange 
ended at $7,803 a tonne, up 2.6 percent from Friday's close of
$7,605.
    It earlier climbed to its highest level since November 2 at
$7,807, and posted its biggest one-day percentage gain since mid
September when the U.S. Federal Reserve announced further
quantitative easing measures.
    Other metals also rallied, with benchmark nickel 
touching its highest since the beginning of November and tin
 hitting their highest levels in nearly two weeks. 
    Leading U.S. lawmakers expressed confidence on Sunday that
they could reach a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" that would
trigger automatic tax hikes and spending cuts next January even
as they laid down markers on taxes and spending that may make
any agreement more difficult. 
    On the economic front, U.S. home resales rose in October and
a gauge of homebuilder sentiment climbed to a six-year high in
November, a sign slow improvements in the labor market are
helping the housing sector recovery gain traction.
 
    "There's a bit more optimism surrounding the fiscal cliff
(and) there's been some relief from what looks like a smooth
power transition in China. That said, there are still many
macro-economic risks," said Barclays analyst Gayle Berry.
    "Commodities underperformed other asset classes after QEIII
(the third round of quantitative easing) because of the growth
outlook. Some numbers are beginning to turn in China but its
going to be a gradual improvement."
    China, the world's top copper consumer, announced that its
economy was turning the corner and was likely to meet its growth
target for the year. 
    Chinese Vice president Xi Jinping, who will assume the role
of head of state in March, praised his predecessor Hu Jintao
last week for voluntarily giving up power.
    Copper is trading up 2.7 percent in the year to date, but
prices have fallen short of steep gains in silver, which
is up around 17 percent higher in the year to date, and gold
, which has rallied about 11 percent since January. 
    "We still expect to see most markets push higher heading
into year-end. We think investors have yet to fully discount the
likelihood of a fiscal cliff deal reached that may actually
exceed the rather low set of expectations that are now in
place," said Ed Meir, analyst at INTL FCStone. 
    "Equity markets should lead the upward move, with the base
metals being pulled up along with it." 
    
    GREEK AID 
    Investors were reassured by news that officials familiar
with preparations for the finance ministers' meeting expect a
"political endorsement in principle" on unfreezing loans to
Athens, but the money will only be paid on Dec. 5 if the country
meets all remaining conditions.
    Caution about the prolonged debt crisis in Europe persisted,
however. 
    "Our trade clients, particularly in Europe, tell us of quiet
market conditions and planned early plant closures for Christmas
... not a good sign for base metal demand," Triland Metals said
in a note on Friday.
    In a sign that metals demand is weak, Chile's Codelco
, the world's top copper producer, has offered its
Japanese copper customers a 2013 term premium of $85 a tonne,
down 9 percent from its 2012 premium. 
    Battery material lead ended at $2,191 from $2,150 on
Friday, with the premium for cash lead over the three month
contract last at $10.75 a tonne, indicating the market remains
extremely tight. 
    Soldering metal tin closed at $20,800 from $20,400,
having earlier hitting its highest since November 7 at $20,801.
Stainless-steel ingredient nickel ended at $16,425 from
$15,955 after hitting its highest since November 1 at $16,470. 
    Zinc, used in galvanizing, ended at $1,945.50 from
$1,920 while aluminium closed at $1,977 from $1,951.  
    
 Metal Prices at1709 GMT
 Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T
  Metal            Last      Change  Pct Move   End 2011   Ytd Pct
                                                              move
  COMEX Cu       354.00        8.85     +2.56     344.75      2.68
  LME Alum      1977.75       26.75     +1.37    2020.00     -2.09
  LME Cu        7804.25      199.25     +2.62    7600.00      2.69
  LME Lead      2194.25       44.25     +2.06    2034.00      7.88
  LME Nickel   16441.00      486.00     +3.05   18650.00    -11.84
  LME Tin      20750.00      350.00     +1.72   19200.00      8.07
  LME Zinc      1945.00       25.00     +1.30    1845.00      5.42
  SHFE Alu     15390.00      -35.00     -0.23   15845.00     -2.87
  SHFE Cu*     56050.00      310.00     +0.56   55360.00      1.25
  SHFE Zin     15045.00        5.00     +0.03   14795.00      1.69
 ** 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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