July 18, 2011 / 10:46 AM / in 6 years

METALS-Copper steady; China demand, euro zone crisis weigh

(Recasts, adds comment/detail, pvs Singapore)

* China GDP growth in April to June rises 2.2 pct

* World stocks, euro fall on bank stress tests

By Pratima Desai

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Copper was steady on Monday, but expected to come under pressure due to doubts about demand from top consumer China and the euro zone debt crisis.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was trading at $9,674 a tonne at 1015 GMT from $9,672 at the close on Friday.

The metal used in power and construction hit a three-month high of $9,789.75 a tonne on July 8, a day before data showed inflation in China rose 6.4 percent year-on-year in June from 5.5 percent in May.

“That was a nasty upward surprise in Chinese inflation. The danger is that China’s restocking phase could be a little bit delayed,” said Nic Brown, analyst at Natixis.

“We wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that now base metals have rallied, buying from China dries up a little bit.”

China’s gross domestic product growth in April to June rose 2.2 percent from the first quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, a slight pick-up in pace from 2.1 percent in the first quarter.

China accounts for about 40 percent of global copper consumption estimated at around 21 million tonnes.

Also a large consumer is the United States, where signs of a slowdown are emerging.

“It’s not looking good, I can’t see what would push copper back above the $10,000 level,” a LME trader said.

LME copper hit a record high of $10,190 a tonne on February 15.

DEFICIT

Also weighing on the market are the debt problems in the euro zone and the damage to growth in the region.

“With global economic growth slowing, demand growth is set to decelerate this year,” BoA Merrill Lynch said in a note. “High copper prices meant only subdued buying has emerged from commercial players.”

BoA forecasts a deficit for the copper market this year and a “small deficit” for the aluminium market.

Three-month aluminium was at $2,491 a tonne from $2,494 at Friday’s close.

The metal used in transport, packaging and construction has been supported by bank financing deals which have tied up about 70 percent of stocks in LME-registered warehouses.

“Aluminium is significantly better than the others at the minute,” Brown said.

“You can probably explain some of that by anticipation of a move from 13 percent to 9 percent rebate, which is encouraging aluminium exports, encouraging use of aluminium.”

China is weighing whether to cut export rebates for some aluminium extrusion products to 9 percent from the current 13 percent, and to abolish the 5-percent rebate for exporting stainless steel wires and rods.

Zinc was at $2,432 a tonne from $2,375 on Friday, lead was at $2,736 from $2,708, tin at $27,100 from $27,200 and nickel from $23,800 from $24,155.

Reporting by Pratima Desai

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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