* Strong EU, U.S. data not enough to offset China weakness
* Copper hit one-month high at $7,119 on Wednesday
* Goldman Sachs bearish on copper
By Silvia Antonioli and Harpreet Bhal
LONDON, July 25 Copper fell back on Thursday after a five-day
run-up that lifted prices to a one-month high, under pressure from concerns that
a slowing Chinese economy may dent demand from the world's top consumer amid
ample global supplies.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange, untraded at the
close, was last bid at $7,010 a tonne, down from $7,055 at the close on
Wednesday, when it touched a one-month high at $7,119. Copper, used in
construction, is down 12 percent this year on weaker Chinese growth.
Data on Wednesday showed manufacturing activity in China at an 11-month low
in July, pointing to more challenges for a country where year-on-year economic
growth has fallen in nine of the last 10 quarters.
"We think that China is going to continue to be under a bit of pressure and
that could weigh on the base metals market a bit more," said Natalie Rampono,
commodity strategist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
Better-than-expected industrial growth in the European Union, coupled with a
rise in planned U.S. business spending and strong home sales data, only
partially offset concerns about the slowdown in China, which accounts for 40
percent of global demand for refined copper.
"Once again, it is concern over China that is weighing on the (metals) group
today, as yesterday's flash PMI number seems to be extending its shadow," INTL
FCStone analyst Ed Meir said, referring to flash or preliminary U.S.
Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index data from financial data firm Markit.
"Moreover, investors may be getting nervous that any Chinese government
stimulus program ... may not be enough to stem the tide of weakening demand."
A projected surplus would also keep prices under pressure, Rampono said.
A Reuters poll released on Monday showed analysts forecasting a bigger
global copper surplus of 153,000 tonnes in 2013, compared with 98,500 in the
previous poll. The number is seen widening to 368,500 next year.
"Industrial metals are caught between a rock and a hard place. If you look
at fundamentals we see supply additions everywhere and relatively high inventory
levels," Credit Suisse analyst Tobias Merath said.
"The physical market remains relatively tight with premiums still elevated
across the board, so that is somewhat limiting the downside. But if anything we
would say that fundamentals have a bit of a negative bias, given (the) growth
slowdown in China."
Investment bank Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday its "least preferred
commodities" in the next 12 months were copper and iron ore, raw materials of
which China is the biggest consumer.
Benchmark aluminium closed at $1,823 a tonne from $1,851, while
zinc ended at $1,877.50 from $1,885 Wednesday's close. Lead
ended at $2,070 from $2,065 and tin closed at $19,375 from $19,505.
Nickel ended at $14,175 from $14,360.