* China HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI eases in November
* China imports 292,620 tonnes of refined copper in Oct
* Coming Up: Euro zone Flash manufacturing PMI at 0858 GMT
By Melanie Burton
SINGAPORE, Nov 21 London copper fell on Thursday
after minutes of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting showed the
central bank could start to scale back its commodities-friendly
monetary stimulus in the next few months if the economy
continued to recover.
Prices plumbed three-month lows this week, under pressure
both from worries about the Fed "tapering" and by expectations
of increasing supply next year.
"It's very Fed-driven at the moment," said Mark Keenan, head
of commodities research for Asia at Societe Generale.
Keenan said the copper market was showing signs of
short-term tightness, with spot quotes at times higher than
those further out, which was helping to underpin prices.
"But certainly the general view is that increasing mine
supply is weighing on the price of copper," he added.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
traded down 0.1 percent at $6,988 a tonne at 0711 GMT, paring
earlier losses when it sank towards three-month lows, reaching
an intra-session trough of $6,950 a tonne.
Copper hit $6,910 a tonne on Tuesday, the lowest since Aug.
The most traded February copper contract on the Shanghai
Futures Exchange closed barely changed at 50,280 yuan
($8,300) a tonne.
Federal Reserve officials felt they could start scaling back
the massive asset-purchase programme at one of their next few
meetings, depending on economic growth.
Also feeding negative sentiment towards metals, activity in
China's vast factory sector grew at a milder pace in November as
new export orders shrank, a preliminary survey showed on
Thursday, bolstering expectations the economy could lose some of
its vigour in the fourth quarter.
Growing mine supply is expected to push the global market
for copper into a small surplus next year.
But the availability of copper scrap would have a much
larger impact on copper market fundamentals than a small
surplus, the chief executive officer of Chile's Codelco
, the top global producer, said this week.
Around 40 percent of global refined copper output is
produced from scrap metal and a shortage of scrap has limited
output at refined metal producers in China this year. Scrap
supply is not expected to rise much in 2014.
The shortage has prompted manufacturers of semi-finished and
finished copper products to use more refined copper, boosting
demand for metal this year.
Reflecting a lack of immediately available copper, the
discount for cash copper narrowed against benchmark three-month
prices to $6.25 from $14.25 on Monday.
Codelco has raised the premium for 2014 term shipments to
China by 41 percent to a nine-year high, sources said this
China imported 292,620 tonnes of refined copper in October,
up 26.85 percent.
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