METALS-Copper falls under $7,000 on growth, supply concerns

Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:36pm EDT

* Nickel prices fall to lowest in almost four-year low
    * China refined copper imports fall 37 percent in March

    By Maytaal Angel and Silvia Antonioli
    LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - Copper fell almost 1 percent on
Monday, to trade close to 1-1/2 year lows amid disappointing
global growth and higher supply prospects.
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange ended
at $6,935 a tonne from $6,990 at the close on Friday, having
earlier fallen as low as $6,815, just $15 short of a
year-and-a-half low hit last week. 
    The fall in copper came despite gains in oil, gold and global
equities, all of which suffered heavy losses last week after
surprisingly weak Chinese growth data, and poor U.S. jobless
claims.   
    "There's pressure because of a slowdown in growth, and there
has been a focus on copper because it has been trading at a
significant premium to its accepted fair value," said Deutsche
Bank analyst Daniel Brebner. 
    "Between now and mid-year we will see $6,500 a tonne, but if
you're a trader, you'd be looking at this as a (buying)
opportunity." 
    Weighing on copper, data showed refined copper imports from
China, the world's top copper consumer, fell to 218,823 tonnes in
March, down 36.7 percent year-on-year. 
    Also, LME copper stocks remain near their highest in a decade,
plus many in the industry believe the copper market, which has
recorded years of deficit, is set for a surplus this year.     
    Investment bank Goldman Sachs lowered its copper price
forecast for 2013 to $7,600 a tonne from $8,453.
    The bank said while it remains bullish on the outlook for
copper on a three and six month view, it had to acknowledge "the
increasing willingness of the market to price future surplus ahead
of time (and) increasing downside risks to broader emerging market
growth."
    In a sign of worries over global growth, finance leaders of
the G20 economies on Friday edged away from a long-running drive
toward government austerity in rich nations, rejecting the idea of
setting hard targets for reducing national debt. 
    Consumer morale in the euro zone improved in April, the
European Commission said on Monday, but remained well below the
currency area's long-term average. 
    
    NICKEL FALLS
    Also reflecting a harsher outlook for the industry, United
Company RUSAL Plc revised on Monday its 2012 net loss to
$337 million from the $55 million it previously stated, citing
adjustments from mining giant Norilsk Nickel in which it
owns a stake. 
    Nickel prices have come under pressure from limp
stainless steel demand, which has pushed LME inventories to record
highs , and toppled prices to their lowest in almost
4-year low at $15,092 a tonne earlier. The metal later recovered
to close at $15,300 a tonne from $15,165.
    Tin, untraded at the close, was last bid at $20,795 a
tonne from $20,800, while zinc closed $1,882 a tonne from
$1,886.50 and battery material lead at $2,010 a tonne from
$2,020.
     Aluminium, also untraded at the close, was last bid
at $1,892 a tonne from $1,887.
    Daily average primary aluminium output rose slightly to 68,500
tonnes in March, against a revised 68,400 tonnes in February, data
from the International Aluminium Institute (IAI) showed on Monday.
 
    
 Metal Prices at 1623 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       312.65       -2.20     -0.70     365.25    -14.40
  LME Alum      1893.00        6.00     +0.32    2073.00     -8.68
  LME Cu        6913.25      -76.75     -1.10    7931.00    -12.83
  LME Lead      2010.00      -10.00     -0.50    2330.00    -13.73
  LME Nickel   15266.00      101.00     +0.67   17060.00    -10.52
  LME Tin      20678.00     -122.00     -0.59   23400.00    -11.63
  LME Zinc      1880.00       -6.50     -0.34    2080.00     -9.62
  SHFE Alu     14540.00      -40.00     -0.27   15435.00     -5.80
  SHFE Cu*     49280.00    -1420.00     -2.80   57690.00    -14.58
  SHFE Zin     14480.00        5.00     +0.03   15625.00     -7.33
 ** 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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