METALS-Copper slips as focus shifts from Fed to fundamentals

Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:20pm EDT

* Fed could still taper stimulus in October-Bullard

* Tin hovers around 6-month high

By Silvia Antonioli and Harpreet Bhal

LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Copper edged lower on Friday after hitting its highest in almost a month as investors, following the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to stick to its stimulus program, shifted focus back to fragile fundamentals.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange hit a session high $7,368 a tonne, its highest since Aug. 27, before slipping to trade at $7,280 at the close, down from a close of $7,335 on Thursday.

Copper prices have rallied as much as 4 percent after the Federal Reserve surprised markets on Wednesday by saying it would maintain bond purchases at their present pace, but the recovery lost steam on Friday.

"The recent gains were mostly macro-driven and with the Fed decision out of the way, at least for now, attention will turn back to copper fundamentals," VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov said.

"We are yet to see a narrowing of the copper contango, further draws in Shanghai warehouse inventories as well as rising domestic premiums and eventually falling LME inventories."

On Friday the copper forward curve was in a $25 contango , a discount for the cash price against the three-month price.

A narrowing of the contango or the curve flipping into a backwardation - where there is a premium for the cash price against the three-month price - is seen as a sign of improving demand.

Weighing on metals, the dollar index rose after St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday that the Fed could still scale back its massive bond buying program at an October meeting, should data point to a stronger economy.

A stronger U.S. unit makes dollar-priced commodities costlier for holders of other currencies.

Markets in China, the world's largest consumer of copper, reopens on Monday after a two-day holiday.

"To us, it seems that the element of surprise emanating from the Fed announcement is starting to dissipate and we therefore doubt the Chinese will be inclined to "top up" the Fed-induced, easy-money rally," INTL FCStone analyst Ed Meir said in a note.

In other metals, tin ended at $23,045 from $23,290 at the close on Thursday when the metal hit a 6-month high of $23,350.

Prices were boosted by strict rule changes on shipments from top exporter Indonesia, which has prompted some electronics makers to seek to diversify supply.

The Rwandan subsidiary of British mining firm Pella Resources Ltd plans to invest $22 million in the east African country's small mining industry to extract tin ore, under a deal signed on Thursday.

Zinc ended at $1,871.50 from Thursday's close of $1,906 while nickel closed at $14,035 versus $14,400.

Lead ended at $2,084 from $2,126 and aluminium , untraded at the close, was bid at $1,800 from a close of $1,829 on Thursday.

PRICES

Three month LME copper CMCU3

Most active ShFE copper SCFcv1

Three month LME aluminium CMAL3

Most active ShFE aluminium SAFcv1

Three month LME zinc CMZN3

Most active ShFE zinc SZNcv1

Three month LME lead CMPB3

Most active ShFE lead SPBcv1

Three month LME nickel CMNI3

Three month LME tin CMSN3

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