NEW YORK, March 12 (Reuters) - U.S. copper futures ended a shade off Thursday after hitting their lowest levels in more than a week as a rise in inventories and slower Chinese industrial activity placed a cap on the market.
For detailed report on global copper markets, click on [MET/L]
* Copper for May delivery HGK9 eased 0.10 cent to settle at $1.6245 a lb on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s COMEX division.
* Session range from $1.6540 to $1.5850 which marked the contract’s lowest level since March 3.
* Front-month March copper HGH9 ended up 0.15 cent at $1.6175.
* COMEX estimated futures volume at 9,690 lots by 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT). Final volume on Wednesday hit 17,855 lots.
* Open interest jumped 2,393 lots to 89,359 contracts open as of March 11.
* COMEX copper in continued consolidation from breakout above $1.50 to $1.60 levels - Ralph Preston, futures analyst with HeritageWestFutures.com in San Diego, California.
* Stable trading above $1.50 to $1.60 should promote rallies to attack the recent highs at $1.73 - Preston.
* Last week, benchmark May contract hit a three-month high at $1.7370.
* Copper seen adrift, with near-term direction driven by moves in the equities markets - Frank McGhee, head precious metals trader with Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago.
* U.S. stocks climbed for a third day in a row on Thursday, gaining more than 2 percent to session highs after a slight dip in retail sales in February helped offset a jump in weekly jobless claims. [ID:nN12352975]
* Expectations of further (economic) slowdown through the summer will continue to keep market under pressure - McGhee.
* China’s annual industrial output growth slowed to 3.8 percent in January and February from 5.7 percent in December - the National Bureau of Statistics. [ID:nBJC000278]
* Chinese industrial activity seen picking up again as early as the second quarter - Patricia Mohr, vice president, economics & commodity market specialist with Scotiabank Group.
* A continued surge in Chinese bank lending in February spurred optimism that the economy could soon rebound. [ID:nPEK73513]
* China’s output of refined copper rose 12 percent on the month in February to hit a three-month high as smelters were completing repairs and bought alternative feed to replace scrap metal. [ID:nHKG76728]
* India’s industrial output INIP=ECI fell 0.5 percent in January from a year earlier, after a revised contraction of 0.6 percent in December. [ID:nDEL176864]
* London Metal Exchange copper warehouse stocks rose by 2,450 tonnes to 504,325 tonnes on Thursday, reversing a bullish trend in place since late Feb.
* Canceled warrants -- an indicator of future outflows -- fell to 37,175 tonnes from 40,825 tonnes on Wednesday.
* Canceled warrants have fallen to 8 percent of the total stock, down from 12 percent last week, suggesting future withdrawals may slow.
* COMEX copper stocks CMWSU were unchanged at 44,441 short tons as of Wednesday.
* London Metal Exchange copper for three months delivery MCU3 fell $10 to close at $3,580 a tonne. (Reporting by Chris Kelly; Editing by John Picinich)