METALS-Copper steady, other metals weighed down by strong dollar

Thu Nov 7, 2013 12:27pm EST

* ECB announces surprise rate cut to new record low

* U.S. third-quarter GDP, jobless data beat forecasts

* Indonesian tin exports rose four-fold in October

By Maytaal Angel and Eric Onstad

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Copper was steady on Thursday, but other metals sank under the weight of a strong dollar following better-than-expected U.S. growth data and a surprise European Central Bank rate cut.

The dollar index rose to its highest level since mid-September, making metals priced in the U.S. currency more expensive to buyers outside the United States.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange failed to trade during closing open outcry activity and was last bid at $7,145 a tonne, up 0.4 percent.

Copper, which hit a four-week low in the previous session, has lost 10.2 percent so far this year.

Other metals fared worse. Tin touched the lowest in nearly eight weeks, while zinc, lead and nickel hit the weakest in three weeks.

"Metals are stuck in listless territory, pressured lower by excess supply, a stronger dollar and perceptions that global growth, while improving, still does not seem strong enough to sop up the excesses seen in a number of base metals," analyst Edward Meir at broker INTL FCStone said.

The dollar got a boost from data showing the U.S. economy grew by a faster-than-forecast 2.8 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the quickest pace since the third quarter of 2012, while a shock rate cut by the European Central Bank undermined the euro.

The latest U.S. numbers, combined with Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, will help investors gauge the timing of a Federal Reserve move to begin winding down its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying programme.

"The main number will be tomorrow's U.S. job figures. In general the mood is a little bit soft. Demand is there but not in big tonnages, and we have mixed news. I think prices can still come off a bit further in the next few weeks," said Herwig Schmidt, head of sales at Triland.

TIN SHIPMENTS

In China, leaders will start a four-day meeting on Saturday to set a reform agenda for the next decade as they try to steer the economy towards more sustainable growth after three decades of breakneck expansion.

Third-quarter metals demand from top consumer China was good, and financing demand remains strong, but a wall of supply from this year will keep copper prices in check, analyst Ivan Szpakowski of Citi in Singapore said.

"We've been bearish, and that hasn't changed," he added.

In industry news, the LME revised a proposal to fix backlogs in its warehouse network, mandating shorter queues and announcing a review of its agreement with warehouse owners.

In other metals, tin closed down 0.6 percent at $22,695 a tonne, having earlier hit its lowest point since mid-September at $22,426 a tonne.

Refined tin shipments from top exporter Indonesia rose to 3,314.05 tonnes in October, more than quadrupling from the 785.99 tonnes in September but down 70 percent from October 2012.

"Because the coming months are likely to see increased trading volume and thus increased exports, the supply situation on the global tin market should ease again somewhat," Commerzbank said in a note.

"Initially, this could preclude any significant rise in tin prices. At the same time, however, the average production costs of $22,000 per ton should prevent any noticeable fall in prices," it added.

Aluminium was barely changed, closing down $1 or 0.06 percent at $1,821 a tonne, but lead, zinc and nickel hit the weakest levels since Oct. 16.

Lead ended down 0.7 percent at $2,144 a tonne after hitting a low of $2,131.25. Zinc finished 0.5 percent lower at $1,904 and nickel gave up 0.8 percent to $14,000.

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Three month LME tin