METALS-Copper falls to lowest since June on China demand concern

Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:34am EDT

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* China economic data points to weakness, euro zone slows

* U.S. industrial production data due at 1315 GMT (Updates with official prices)

By Harpreet Bhal

LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Copper held near its lowest level in more than seven weeks on Friday as a downbeat outlook for the economy in top consumer China raised concerns about demand for industrial metals.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) fell to a session low of $6,823 a tonne, its weakest since June 23, before recovering some lost ground. It failed to trade in official rings and was bid at $6,843 a tonne, up 0.3 percent.

The metal, used in the power and construction industries, is on track to post a 2 percent fall for the week, its steepest drop in four weeks.

"The growth outlook for major consumer China is looking pretty gloomy and suggests Beijing doesn't want to see a strong rebound based on credit. It doesn't bode well for the growth outlook for the coming months," said Robin Bhar, metals analyst at Societe Generale.

"With the euro zone economies also stalling and the U.S. economy blowing hot and cold, I think the outlook for global growth and metals demand looks a lot more uncertain now than it was a few months ago."

Fanning global demand concerns, a surprisingly sharp and sudden drop in China's credit has strengthened the case for the central bank to cut interest rates, but policy insiders believe it will be reluctant to take more aggressive steps and for now will stick to more targeted measures.

China is the world's top copper consumer, accounting for about 40 percent of global refined demand.

Euro zone economic growth ground to a halt in the second quarter as Germany's economy shrank and France's stagnated, while in the United States weekly jobless claims rose more than expected last week, though the increase did little to change views that the labour market was strengthening.

Adding to the caution among investors were expectations of further supply arriving in the second half to push the copper market into a deep surplus.

The market was expected to be in a 226,000 tonne surplus by the end of this year, a July Reuters poll showed, with the surplus seen rising to 285,000 tonnes in 2015.

China's refined copper production rose 1.6 percent month on month in July, increasing for a third straight month as smelters expanded capacity.

In other metals, aluminium traded at $1,988.50 in official rings, down 0.5 percent.

Zinc, untraded in official rings, was bid at $2,264 a tonne, down 0.5 percent. Tin was last bid at $22,375, down 0.3 percent, and nickel was last bid at $18,550, down 0.7 percent.

Lead traded at $2,200 a tonne, almost flat from Thursday's last bid price.

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

(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Sydney; Editing by Keiron Henderson and David Goodman)

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