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