* Cash copper prices fall against benchmark as buying demand
* LME nickel on track to end week little changed despite
By Susan Thomas
LONDON Jan 24 Copper fell to its lowest in a
month on Friday and struck its biggest weekly fall since
mid-November as slowing growth in China's factories fuelled
worries about demand in the world's top metals consumer.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
ended at $7,180 a tonne, its lowest level in a month and down
from a close of $7,292 on Thursday. The metal is down 2 percent
for the week.
Weaker domestic and overseas demand in January hurt Chinese
factory output and drove the Flash Markit/HSBC purchasing
managers' index to 49.6 in its first contraction in six months.
A reading above 50 indicates growth.
On Friday meanwhile, a global flight from emerging market
assets gathered pace as investors worried about the impact of
slower growth in China, U.S. monetary policy and political
problems in Turkey, Argentina and Ukraine.
"There is nothing positive for copper at the moment," said
Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade in Dublin. "The
HSBC Flash manufacturing PMI data rattled many nerves in the
He also said there are expectations that the U.S. Federal
Reserve will further taper its stimulus package next week, which
would put further pressure on copper.
The Fed's bond-buying programme has increased liquidity in
markets, which in turn has helped support commodities prices.
Fed policymakers will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Limiting losses in copper however, was news that several
Chilean ports were on strike, curbing metal, fruit and other
shipments from the country that accounts for about a third of
the world's copper supply.
Still, nearby tightness in the physical market continues to
ease, shown by LME forward spreads, as buying winds down ahead
of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which begins next Friday.
LME cash copper traded $24 above the benchmark contract,
down from a high of $64.50 on Tuesday.
"Outlook wise, we think that the steady drip-feed of
less-than-stellar Chinese macro data will likely keep the
pressure on prices for a little while longer, although the
selling may abate at about the time that the Chinese New Year
holidays commence," said INTL FC Stone in a note.
In other metals traded, LME nickel ended the week down 1.5
percent, closing $14,485 a tonne after having gained more than 6
percent last week before a ban on exports of ore from Indonesia
came into force.
The global nickel market surplus more than doubled to
180,000 tonnes in the first 11 months of 2013 compared with the
same period a year earlier, a monthly bulletin from the
Lisbon-based International Nickel Study Group (INSG) showed.
Lead ended up 0.65 pct to $2,167 a tonne, zinc ended
down 1.3 percent at $2,020 a tonne, aluminium closed
down just $1 at $1,762 a tonne, while tin was last bid
at $22,000 a tonne, unchanged at the close.
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