METALS-Copper slips on concerns about China growth, inventories
* Weak Chinese data the focus * LME stock jump by 12,000 tonnes, near decade high * Indian court postpones Sterlite smelter hearing By Maytaal Angel LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - Copper fell more than 2 percent on Tuesday as poor factory output data from China, the top user of the metal, fed fears that demand growth was stalling as copper inventories rose. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed 2.3 percent weaker at $7,245 a tonne, the biggest decline in two weeks and reversing gains of half a percent in the previous session. Data on Monday showed China's factory output growth was surprisingly weak in April, while fixed-asset investment also slowed, rekindling concerns that a nascent recovery in the world's top copper consumer is stalling. The numbers initially lifted copper prices on hopes they would prompt Beijing to ease monetary policy, but those hopes were dashed on Tuesday after comments in China's official media suggested the government was unlikely to follow that route. Copper hit its highest in nearly a month last Wednesday at $7,480 a tonne. It has clawed back around 9 percent from 18-month lows below $6,800 touched on April 23, but is still down almost 7 percent for the year. "It's the drip, drip, drip of pointers suggesting the period of rapid Chinese demand growth has come to an end. There is (also) a sense that the Chinese authorities are reasonably happy to have economic growth sub-8 percent," BNP Paribas analyst Stephen Briggs said. Market data out earlier also showed LME stocks of the metal rose by 12,000 tonnes to 618,700 tonnes, edging back towards a recent peak of 621,600 tonnes, which was the highest in almost a decade. Copper stocks had been falling in recent weeks, but overall levels remain elevated and analysts expect a surge of new supply from mines this year. On Monday, miner Glencore Xstrata said copper output rose 18 percent in the first quarter of 2013 as new operations expanded to substitute depleted mines and output climbed at its legacy operations in Congo. But there are still scattered fundamental issues that could help support prices. Rio Tinto Ltd is looking for concentrate for its Kennecott copper smelter in Utah after a landslide at its nearby mine, sources said. And in India, the country's biggest smelter, owned by Sterlite Industries , remains shut on pollution concerns until May 16 after a New Delhi court said it would resume a hearing then. The smelter, which meets half of India's demand for copper, has been shut for seven weeks. Elsewhere, at least three people were killed on Tuesday and an unknown number missing after a training tunnel collapsed at the Indonesian unit of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc, mine officials said. Output at the world's second-largest copper mine was not seen much affected. Three-month aluminium lost 0.5 percent to close at $1,857 a tonne and nickel shed 1.3 percent to $15,105. Lead ended 1.4 percent weaker at $1,979 a tonne and zinc lost 0.9 percent to $1,846. Tin failed to trade in closing rings but was bid at $20,995 a tonne, up 0.5 percent from Monday's close. Metal Prices at 1612 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 328.35 -7.65 -2.28 365.25 -10.10 LME Alum 1858.50 -8.50 -0.46 2073.00 -10.35 LME Cu 7237.50 -177.50 -2.39 7931.00 -8.74 LME Lead 1979.25 -28.75 -1.43 2330.00 -15.05 LME Nickel 15118.00 -182.00 -1.19 17060.00 -11.38 LME Tin 20900.00 0.00 +0.00 23400.00 -10.68 LME Zinc 1845.50 -16.50 -0.89 2080.00 -11.27 SHFE Alu 14565.00 -35.00 -0.24 15435.00 -5.64 SHFE Cu* 52920.00 -620.00 -1.16 57690.00 -8.27 SHFE Zin 14450.00 -100.00 -0.69 15625.00 -7.52 ** 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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