METALS-Copper slips on European political concerns

Tue Feb 5, 2013 12:40pm EST

* Euro rises after above-forecast PMI data
    * Copper stocks rise to highest since December 2011
    * Coming up: U.S. ISM non-manufacturing data Jan at 1500 GMT

    By Harpreet Bhal
    LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Copper prices slipped on Tuesday
as concerns about political stability in Italy and Spain
prompted caution among investors, but falls were kept in check
by a strong euro and growing confidence in the outlook for
global economic growth.
    Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed
at $8,271, down from the close at $8,305 a tonne on Monday, when
it hit a four-month intraday high of $8,346. 
    Confidence was shaken by a corruption scandal in Spain,
where Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faces calls to resign, and
political uncertainty in Italy, which holds a general election
later this month.
    Spanish and Italian bond yields stabilised following a
sell-off on Monday, but their outlook remaining volatile due to
the political risks. 
    "There are some concerns in the euro zone, and the market is
looking for excuses to pause a little," said Andrey Kryuchenkov,
an analyst at VTB. 
    "Any rally (in metals markets) that is based on macro
numbers alone cannot support sustained gains. We need to see
more evidence of improving fundamentals," he added.
    Helping perceptions of the outlook for the euro zone
economy, a survey on Tuesday showed that businesses were more
optimistic about the future but highlighted a growing chasm
between the region's economies. 
    The data helped the euro rise against the dollar, making
commodities priced in the U.S. unit cheaper for holders of other
currencies. 
    The vast U.S. services sector expanded last month, extending
a three-year run of growth. 
    Optimism about the outlook for global growth was boosted
last week when data showed U.S. factory activity quickened in
January and hiring increased, while Chinese factories extended a
modest rebound. 
  
    
        
    RISING STOCKS
    Copper stocks in warehouses registered with the LME rose by
10,850 tonnes to 385,050, their highest level since December
2011 and up 83 percent since mid-October.
    Investors were closely monitoring demand indications from
China, which accounts for 40 percent of refined copper demand,
given that its markets will be closed next week for its New Year
holiday celebrations. 
    "In order for the LME to sustain its gains, we need to see
more buying from China and some policy support. Otherwise the
rally we have seen in some of the base metals will run dry,"
said Dominic Schnider, head of commodity research at UBS Wealth
Management in Singapore. 
    "Things are going to be quiet over Chinese New Year," he
added, referring to the Lunar New Year holidays which start at
the weekend.  
    Reflecting a lack of interest from Chinese customers, the
ShFE copper contango was trading around the widest since March
last year at about 550 yuan per tonne. 
    In other metals, three-month nickel, untraded at the
close, was last bid at $18,695 from Monday's close of $18,725,
while tin closed at $24,925 from $24,900. 
    Three-month zinc closed at $2,176.5 a tonne from
$2,185 and aluminium at $2,111 from $2,113. 
    Official closing prices for benchmark lead were
unavailable due to technical issues at the London Metal
Exchange, the exchange said. 
    Lead traded electronically at $2,458 at 1715 GMT, compared
to $2,440 a tonne late on Monday. A closing price for lead was
also unavailable on Monday due to a technical problems.
   
 Metal Prices at 1720 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       376.70       -0.15     -0.04     365.25      3.13
  LME Alum      2114.00        1.00     +0.05    2073.00      1.98
  LME Cu        8282.75      -22.25     -0.27    7931.00      4.44
  LME Lead      2458.00        7.00     +0.29    2330.00      5.49
  LME Nickel   18720.00       -5.00     -0.03   17060.00      9.73
  LME Tin      24851.00      -49.00     -0.20   23400.00      6.20
  LME Zinc      2177.00       -8.00     -0.37    2080.00      4.66
  SHFE Alu     15150.00      -80.00     -0.53   15435.00     -1.85
  SHFE Cu*     59550.00     -250.00     -0.42   57690.00      3.22
  SHFE Zin     15880.00     -190.00     -1.18   15625.00      1.63
 ** 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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