* Copper down 6.4 pct in April, biggest monthly loss since May
* China markets to remain closed until ThursdaY
* U.S. Midwest business activity unexpectedly contracts in April
By Harpreet Bhal and Maytaal Angel
LONDON, April 30 Copper fell on Tuesday, recording its steepest
monthly loss in nearly a year, as concerns about the pace of global growth
weighed on industrial metals, but falls were limited by prospects of further
Inflation in the euro zone has fallen to a three-year low and unemployment
has hit a new record, cementing expectations of an interest rate cut by the
European Central Bank later this week.
U.S. Federal Reserve members meet this week and are widely expected to keep
its current pace of bond buying at $85 billion a month, due to recent weak
economic data. A decision is expected on Wednesday.
Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed at
$7,055 a tonne, from a close of $7,153.50 a tonne on Monday. It fell more than 6
percent this month, its steepest fall since May last year.
Volumes were subdued as China's markets will remain closed until Thursday.
Copper fell to a 1-1/2 year low of $6,762.25 a tonne last week.
Investors have been shying away from commodities on fears that more falls
could be in store after prices plunged in April.
"We had a decent rebound for copper after the falls so I am not surprised to
see some profit taking," said Andrey Kryuchenkov, analyst at VTB Capital.
"The market is sitting tight ahead of Chinese manufacturing PMI data this
week, and rate decisions by the ECB and Fed. Ahead of that we don't expect any
big movements and volumes are expected to remain thin."
Copper fell to a session low of $7,010 a tonne earlier after a U.S. Midwest
business barometer unexpectedly contracted in April, adding to worries about the
U.S. recovery. It remained under pressure even after upbeat U.S. consumer
confidence data for April.
Some pickup in copper demand from China is anticipated after Chinese markets
reopen later this week.
"We still believe that copper prices will move higher into the middle of the
year because of improving demand in China," said analyst Bonnie Liu at Macquarie
Tin closed at $20,370 a tonne from a close of $20,895 on Monday,
while lead closed at $2,027 a tonne from $2,044. Zinc closed at
$1,868 a tonne from $1,907, and nickel at $15,390 a tonne from $15,500.
Aluminium, untraded at the close, was last bid at $1,869.5 a tonne
Nickel output at PT Vale Indonesia Tbk is expected to increase 10
percent to approximately 78,000 tonnes this year, the company said on Tuesday,
on the back of strong first-quarter results.
Metal Prices at 1610 GMT
Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T
Metal Last Change Pct Move End 2012 Ytd Pct
COMEX Cu 318.95 -3.60 -1.12 365.25 -12.68
LME Alum 1869.50 -29.50 -1.55 2073.00 -9.82
LME Cu 7048.50 -105.00 -1.47 7931.00 -11.13
LME Lead 2024.50 -19.50 -0.95 2330.00 -13.11
LME Nickel 15363.00 -137.00 -0.88 17060.00 -9.95
LME Tin 20356.00 -539.00 -2.58 23400.00 -13.01
LME Zinc 1864.50 -42.50 -2.23 2080.00 -10.36
SHFE Alu 14670.00 35.00 +0.24 15435.00 -4.96
SHFE Cu* 51940.00 790.00 +1.54 57690.00 -9.97
SHFE Zin 14745.00 75.00 +0.51 15625.00 -5.63
** Benchmark month for COMEX copper
* 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN
SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07