* China copper importers face shortfall after
* China imports 292,620 tonnes of refined copper in Oct
* PMIs in China, euro zone fall
By Eric Onstad
LONDON, Nov 21 Copper rose at the close on
Thursday as a softer dollar and a short-term shortage of refined
metal offset worries about a fall in Chinese factory activity
and U.S. central bank tapering.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
ended at $7,020 a tonne from $6,996 at the close on Wednesday.
It steadied after earlier sinking towards three-month lows,
reaching an intra-session trough of $6,950 a tonne.
Copper, which has shed 12 percent this year, hit a low
of$6,910 a tonne on Tuesday, the weakest since Aug. 7.
Spot premiums for copper in China have hovered near
four-year highs following the closure of a Philippine smelter
hit by one of the world's biggest typhoons.
Traders said Chinese importers of refined copper faced a
shortfall of about 30,000 tonnes this month and the next due to
the situation in the Philippines.
While pockets of shortages are propping up the copper price
currently, it is still due to come under pressure as new and
improved mines churn out more supply, said Stephen Briggs,
metals strategist at BNP Paribas in London.
"There are a couple of things that are supportive in the
near term. Visible stocks have fallen a lot in the last four or
five months and the market is technically tight," he said.
"There are more losses ahead for copper but the next leg
down might not be for several weeks."
The dollar fell against a basket of currencies, helping to
support copper. A weaker U.S. currency makes dollar-priced
commodities less expensive for foreign investors.
Copper inventories on the LME , which have
declined by nearly 30 percent since early September, fell by
another 3,575 tonnes on Thursday.
Reflecting a lack of immediately available copper, the
discount for cash copper narrowed against benchmark three-month
prices to $6.15 from $14.25 on Monday.
On the macro front, markets were dampened after minutes were
released on Wednesday from a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting,
showing the central bank could start to scale back its
commodities-friendly monetary stimulus in the next few months if
the economy continued to recover.
"It's very Fed-driven at the moment," said Mark Keenan, head
of commodities research for Asia at Societe Generale.
Adding to the jitters on Thursday were downbeat PMI surveys
from the biggest metals consumer China and the euro zone.
Activity in China's vast factory sector grew at a milder
pace in November as new export orders shrank, bolstering
expectations the economy could lose some of its vigour in the
In the euro zone, a fragile recovery in the private sector
weakened unexpectedly this month despite resurgent growth in
Germany, as French business activity tumbled.
Three-month tin closed at $22,945 a tonne from
$22,800 at the close on Wednesday. Analysts expect a deficit of
the metal on worries about an expected ban on exports from top
Three-month nickel fell to its lowest since July,
and closed at $13,430 from $13,530. It has fallen more than 20
percent so far this year, and is on track for a third annual
loss, under pressure from a widening surplus of the metal.
The market surplus ballooned to 127,100 tonne in the first
nine months of the year, more than double the surplus in the
same period last year, a monthly bulletin from the International
Nickel Study Group showed.
Aluminium closed at $1,783 a tonne from $1,781, lead
at $2,088 from $2,898 and zinc at $1,889 from
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