METALS-Copper falls as supplies grow; China data limits losses

Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:16pm EDT

* Chinese industrial data beats expectations

* Copper moving into oversupply - analyst

By Silvia Antonioli and Maytaal Angel

LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Copper dipped on Tuesday on concerns over improved supplies and uncertainty over when the U.S. Federal Reserve will trim its stimulus programme, though upbeat economic data from top metal consumer China kept falls in check.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) traded down 0.36 percent to end at $7,170 a tonne, from $7,196 at the close on Monday.

Latest LME data showed copper stocks at 588,475 tonnes, up more than 20,000 tonnes from a low of 565,500 tonnes in August. The trend of rising stocks is leading investors to fret that the copper market surplus is widening.

"We're heading towards a more significant surplus, but in the short term the data from China suggests that Chinese demand is going to be slightly stronger than anticipated in the third quarter," said Barclay Capital analyst Nicholas Snowdon.

He added, however: "We see conditions softening (in China) as we move into the fourth quarter."

Also pressuring copper were concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve might soon start to reduce its monetary stimulus programme, following signals the world's largest economy is recovering. Fed officials will meet on Sept. 17-18.

The worries over the meeting and over growing supplies overshadowed news that the Syrian government had accepted a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control to avoid a possible U.S. military strike.

Reduced political turmoil usually boosts investor appetite for risky assets such as metals.

CHINA IMPROVES

Copper has risen more than 8 percent since touching three-year lows in June on mounting evidence that a slowdown in China may be bottoming out but is still almost 10 percent down on the year.

Data from China this week signalled its economy is improving and lifted metals prices on Monday.

The data at the weekend showed China's exports rose by a forecast-beating 7.2 percent in August from a year earlier.

China's annual industrial output rose 10.4 percent in August, beating market expectations, while retail sales rose 13.4 percent, official data showed on Tuesday.

China accounts for about 40 percent of copper consumption.

"A lot of the China data has been quite strong (but) people are reluctant to push prices higher because there is more supply coming on stream and there is uncertainty over what the Fed will do at the next meeting," said analyst Daniel Smith at Standard Chartered in London.

In other metals traded, aluminium ended down 0.39 percent at $1,798, zinc ended down 0.58 percent at $1,876, while lead ended down 0.56 percent at $2,137.

Tin fell 0.44 percent to end at $22,825 a tonne, while nickel fell 1.29 percent to end at $13,740.

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