METALS-Copper gains as buoyant China data boosts demand optimism

Wed May 8, 2013 12:21pm EDT

* China's April trade data beats expectations
    * German industrial output rises unexpectedly in March
    * India's Sterlite smelter stays shut until at least May 14

    By Harpreet Bhal
    LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) - Copper prices rose to their highest level in more
than three weeks on Wednesday, as strong trade data from top consumer China
fuelled hopes of demand revival, although uncertainty about global economic
growth kept gains in check.
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) closed at
$7,419 a tonne, up from Tuesday's close of $7,265 a tonne.
    The metal used in power cables and construction rose to an  intraday high at
$7,480 a tonne, its highest in more than three weeks, having rebounded from
1-1/2 year lows hit at the end of April. 
    China's exports and imports grew more than expected in April, offering the
possibility of a better outlook for the world's second-largest economy.
 
    Also helping boost sentiment was data showing German industrial output
unexpectedly rose in March, beating even the highest forecast in a Reuters poll.
 
    "It's not surprising to see an uptick in prices after the recent sharp
falls, especially given the encouraging data," said Ross Strachan, economist at
Capital Economics. 
    "But it is too soon to get overly optimistic about demand from China given
the high level of inventories there for the likes of copper. There are still
structural issues in China and you're unlikely to see rapid acceleration of
growth."
    China's copper arrivals fell 7.4 percent in April from a month ago to hit a
22-month low, hurt by port strikes in Chile and delays to shipments after the
closure of India's biggest smelter. 
    
    STERLITE REMAINS SHUT
    The market was also focused on supplies in India as its Sterlite Industries
 smelter will stay shut until at least May 14 when an environmental
court meets again to review the case, a judge said on Wednesday, prolonging a
six-week shutdown that has pushed up copper concentrate processing fees in Asia.
 
    Lead closed at $2,064 from a last bid of $2,026 a tonne and tin
 closed at $20,745 from Tuesday's close of $20,200.
    Refined tin shipments from Indonesia, the world's top exporter of the metal,
fell 15.5 percent in April to 7,853.09 tonnes from 9,295.7 tonnes in March, a
trade ministry official said on Wednesday. 
    Nickel closed at $15,405 from $15,200 on Tuesday and zinc at
$1,894 from $1,872.50. Aluminium closed at $1,908 from $1,881. 
    
 Metal Prices at 1602 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       336.45        6.60     +2.00     365.25     -7.89
  LME Alum      1906.25       25.25     +1.34    2073.00     -8.04
  LME Cu        7416.50      151.50     +2.09    7931.00     -6.49
  LME Lead      2064.00       26.00     +1.28    2330.00    -11.42
  LME Nickel   15405.00      205.00     +1.35   17060.00     -9.70
  LME Tin      20610.00      410.00     +2.03   23400.00    -11.92
  LME Zinc      1894.75       22.25     +1.19    2080.00     -8.91
  SHFE Alu     14615.00       25.00     +0.17   15435.00     -5.31
  SHFE Cu*     53170.00      280.00     +0.53   57690.00     -7.83
  SHFE Zin     14640.00       55.00     +0.38   15625.00     -6.30
 ** 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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