* US private employers hired at fastest pace in 13 months
* US non-farm jobs data eyed this week for clues on economy
* Aluminium, lead fall to lowest level in one month
By Harpreet Bhal
LONDON, Jan 9 Copper prices fell to two-week
lows on Thursday after upbeat jobs data increased expectations
that the U.S. Federal Reserve could scale back its economy
stimulus programme more aggressively than anticipated.
The Fed's massive bond-buying programme has been a major
driver for global risk assets such as metals in the past few
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange,
untraded at the close, was last bid at $7,213 a tonne from
Wednesday's close of $7,344. It earlier fell to its lowest level
since Dec. 19 at $7,209 a tonne.
A report from a major payrolls processor on Wednesday showed
U.S. private employers had hired staff at the fastest pace in 13
months in December, boosting expectations that Friday's U.S.
non-farm jobs figures could also top forecasts later this
"If the U.S. non-farm payrolls data does beat expectations,
then there is a strong possibility that the new regime in the
Federal Reserve bank could take more aggressive steps towards
tapering, which could put more pressure on copper," said Naeem
Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade.
The U.S. central bank surprised many investors by deciding
at a meeting in December to cut purchases by $10 billion,
bringing them to $75 billion per month. It cited a stronger job
market in its landmark decision.
Adding to the weak copper market were signs of limited
restocking demand from China as its economy cools. China is the
world's largest consumer of copper, accounting for as much as 40
percent of global refined demand.
"The dollar will continue to strengthen because of U.S
tapering, and China's economic growth is slowing down," said
Helen Lau, a senior commodities analyst with UOB Kay Hian in
"I'm a bear on copper prices. I think $7,000 is a more
sustainable level," she said.
The dollar traded close to seven-week highs against a basket
of major currencies following the U.S. private-sector jobs
report. A strong dollar makes commodities priced in the U.S.
unit more expensive for holders of other currencies.
In other metals, tin fell ahead of Indonesia's ban
on unprocessed mineral ore exports from Jan. 12. It closed at
$21,550 a tonne from a close of $21,995 on Wednesday.
"Tin is turning out to be the biggest loser - no doubt
partly because of the ongoing uncertainty over the ore export
ban in Indonesia," Commerzbank analysts said in a note.
Indonesia's mining ministry sought to ease a controversial
mineral export ban before its Sunday deadline but still looked
set to prohibit more than $2 billion worth of annual nickel ore
and bauxite shipments.
Under the proposed regulations, miners such as U.S. giants
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and Newmont Mining Corp
would still be allowed to export copper, manganese,
lead, zinc and iron ore concentrate until 2017.
Lead fell to a close of $2,100 from $2,139 at the
close on Wednesday. It earlier hit its lowest level since early
December at $2,100 a tonne.
Aluminium closed at $1,749 a tonne from $1,777,
having earlier hit its lowest since early December at $1,751.25.
Nickel closed at $13,350, down from $13,500 on
Wednesday, and zinc at $2,010 from $2,029.
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