November 13, 2012 / 11:31 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-Copper gains on dollar, Greece, US fiscal woes lurk

5 Min Read

* Greece international lenders clash publicly over funding
    * China Oct. copper production up 8.6 pct year-on-year
    * China aluminium output up on state buying plans

    By Silvia Antonioli and Maytaal Angel
    LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Copper rebounded on Tuesday as the dollar eased
against the euro but the metal used in construction remained vulnerable due to
the unresolved debt crisis in Greece and the looming fiscal cliff in the United
States.
    Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended at $7,680 a
tonne, up 0.55 percent from a close of $7,638 on Monday.   
    The euro fell to a two-month low against the dollar before recovering, after
a German newspaper said Germany wanted to bundle Greek aid into a single payment
of more than 44 billion euros. 
    But the single currency remained vulnerable to uncertainty over funding for
Athens, after its international lenders, the EU and the International Monetary
Fund, clashed publicly over how Greece can bring its debts down. 
    A weak dollar makes dollar-priced metals cheaper for European and other
non-U.S. investors.
    "We keep getting positive data from the U.S. and China but the market is
worried about Greece," said T-Commodity consultant Gianclaudio Torlizzi.
    "Once again the EU is showing how immature it is at handling the debt
crisis: after the Madrid worries now Greece has come back to scare markets."
    Also helping metals, U.S. stocks, seen by some as a proxy for economic
growth, rose off earlier losses, thanks in part to gains in retail stocks. 
    Downside risks were high though, with  concerns about a possible U.S.
recession if no deal is reached about automatic budget cuts and tax hikes that
will take effect early next year. 
    Metals prices, however, are likely to see some support from recent data
showing the economy of China, the world's biggest metals consumer, was
recovering and likely to meet its growth target for the year. 
    China consumed about 40 percent of global production of copper last year.
    
    CHINESE PRODUCTION GROWTH WEIGHS
    On the downside however, data from China's National Bureau of Statistics
showed the country produced 520,000 tonnes of refined copper in October, an 8.6
percent year-on-year increase. China's aluminium output also rose significantly,
up by 20.3 percent year-on-year to 1.72 million tonnes in October.
    "Numbers out of China continue to point to robust gains in local metal
production, meaning that the rate of imports could slow down in the months
ahead," said INTL analyst Ed Meir.
    State-backed research firm Antaike said China's output of refined copper
would continue to grow, albeit at a lower pace than its production of ores and
concentrates. It also predicted the era of double digit copper demand growth in
China was over.
    "Chinese reliance on imported copper concentrates will increase by 10
percent annually in the future... net import of refined copper will be stable at
around 2.1 million tonnes annually," it said.
    On a brighter note though, China's State Reserves Bureau (SRB) has issued
tenders to buy 160,000 tonnes of primary aluminium and 150,000 tonnes of zinc
ingots from local smelters, the first clear sign Beijing is resuming metals
stockpiling.  
    Aluminium closed up at $1,983 a tonne from $1,968 on Monday, while
zinc, used to galvanize steel, ended up at $1,934 a tonne from $1,931. 
    Battery material lead closed down at $2,151 a tonne from $2,160 a
tonne, while tin ended up at $20,400 from a last bid of $20,350 a tonne
on Monday. 
    Nickel closed down at $16,050 a tonne from $16,055.
 Metal Prices at 1729 GMT
 Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T
  Metal            Last      Change  Pct Move   End 2009   Ytd Pct
                                                              move
  COMEX Cu       347.80        1.00     +0.29     334.65      3.93
  LME Alum      1985.00       17.00     +0.86    2230.00    -10.99
  LME Cu        7680.00       42.00     +0.55    7375.00      4.14
  LME Lead      2151.00       -9.00     -0.42    2432.00    -11.55
  LME Nickel   16050.00       -5.00     -0.03   18525.00    -13.36
  LME Tin      20395.00       95.00     +0.47   16950.00     20.32
  LME Zinc      1934.00        3.00     +0.16    2560.00    -24.45
  SHFE Alu     15265.00       35.00     +0.23   17160.00    -11.04
  SHFE Cu*     55420.00     -220.00     -0.40   59900.00     -7.48
  SHFE Zin     14925.00      105.00     +0.71   21195.00    -29.58
 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper
 * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN
 SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07

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