METALS-Copper down on Fed minutes, U.S. data limits falls

Fri Jan 4, 2013 12:13pm EST

* U.S. Fed minutes indicate hawkish tone
    * Dollar pares gains after U.S. non farm payrolls show
easing pace
    * Physical buyers still absent from metals market - analyst

    By Susan Thomas and Harpreet Bhal
    LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Copper fell on Friday as the
dollar rose after the U.S. Federal Reserve flagged concerns
about the risks of its stimulative monetary policy, but falls in
metals were limited by data showing U.S. jobs growth in line
with forecasts. 
    The minutes from the U.S. central bank's December policy
meeting, published on Thursday, showed some policymakers want to
slow or stop its asset purchase plan before the end of this
year, due to worries about financial stability. 
    The Fed's monetary easing programme has been a big factor
underpinning risk appetite, and has kept the U.S. currency
supported. 
    But the dollar pared gains after data showed the pace of
hiring by U.S. employers eased slightly in December, growing by
155,000 last month, broadly in line with analysts forecasts.
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange 
traded at $8,085 a tonne at the close, down from a close of
$8,154 on Thursday. It bounced off its intraday lows of $8,058
following the release of the U.S. employment data.
    "The non-farm payroll numbers are in-line with forecasts and
we saw markets lift slightly just after the release came out,
but the numbers did not really surprise one way or the other,"
said Edward Meir, analyst at INTL FCStone. 
    "So the focus now turns back to the U.S. fiscal issues that
are left outstanding and the surprising minutes from the Fed." 
    A stronger dollar makes dollar-based assets more expensive
for non-dollar investors. 
    Copper is still heading for a 2.9 percent gain this week,
after surging to its highest in more than two months on
Wednesday in a broad financial markets rally after the U.S.
Congress struck a deal to avert automatic spending cuts and tax
hikes.
    "I guess there was some exuberance, because the U.S. did not
fall off the cliff. But there is not much consumer business at
the moment and none of the physical players are rushing back
into the market and booking metal," Citi analyst David Wilson
said.
   "We need to settle and get more positive macro data under our
belts to see in which direction we're heading."
     
    
    CHINA DATA EYED 
    Next week, China is expected to release data on inflation,
trade and new loans, which will offer insight into the health of
an economy that is a top consumer of many raw materials,
including copper.
    "We won't see the high-speed growth in China as in the
past," said a Shanghai-based trader. "We are still in the
post-crisis mode and the global recovery is slow and fragile,
which doesn't support a major rally in copper."
    In other metals, three-month zinc was untraded, but
bid at $2,040 from $2,088 at the close on Thursday, lead 
closed at $2,335 from a last bid of $2,399 and aluminium 
was last bid at $2,060 from $2,116.
    Nickel closed at $17,350 from $17,500 and tin
 at $23,800 from $23,980.
    
 Metal Prices at 1705 GMT
 Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T
  Metal            Last      Change  Pct Move   End 2012   Ytd Pct
                                                              move
  COMEX Cu       368.00       -3.05     -0.82     365.25      0.75
  LME Alum      2065.25      -50.75     -2.40    2073.00     -0.37
  LME Cu        8099.25      -54.75     -0.67    7931.00      2.12
  LME Lead      2339.00        4.00     +0.17    2330.00      0.39
  LME Nickel   17385.00     -115.00     -0.66   17060.00      1.91
  LME Tin      23760.00     -220.00     -0.92   23400.00      1.54
  LME Zinc      2046.25      -41.75     -2.00    2080.00     -1.62
  SHFE Alu     15315.00      -50.00     -0.33   15435.00     -0.78
  SHFE Cu*     58210.00      440.00     +0.76   57690.00      0.90
  SHFE Zin     15540.00       20.00     +0.13   15625.00     -0.54
 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Find your dream retirement town

Florida? Hawaii? Reuters has teamed up with Zillow to give you the power to customize a list of your best places to retire.  Video | Full Article