April 7, 2014 / 3:27 PM / 3 years ago

METALS-Copper up as investors look to China for monetary easing

* ShFE closed for national holiday, to reopen Tuesday

* Investors unsure if China will take aggressive steps to support growth

* Speculators trim short copper positions - CFTC (Updates with closing prices)

By Maytaal Angel and Harpreet Bhal

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) - Copper recovered on Monday after falling to its lowest level in more than a week as investors nervously awaited signals from policymakers in top consumer China about monetary policy easing.

A weak dollar also helped support gains for metals prices, as the U.S. currency fell against a basket of currencies.

Concerns about demand growth in China have waned in recent days on the prospect for more monetary stimulus, lending support to copper. However, prices are still at risk of succumbing to souring economic sentiment.

“Markets are concerned about whether they (China’s government) are going to step in aggressively if the slowdown appears to be worse than expected, but they’ve met (economic growth) targets previously and I don’t see why they shouldn’t do it this time round,” said Sergey Raevskiy, metals research analyst at SP Angel.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) closed at $6,675 a tonne, up 0.9 percent. It earlier hit $6,585 a tonne, its weakest level since March 28.

Copper has steadied since falling to 3-1/2 year lows in March after a bond default by a Chinese company aroused fears about credit problems in the country. However investors still remain wary of slowing growth rates in China.

China will probably need to ease monetary policy for the first time in two years in coming months to prevent the economy from losing too much momentum, according to economists who doubt the recently announced “mini stimulus” can do the job.

It has fast-tracked spending on railways and other projects in the country’s poorer regions and also cut taxes for small businesses, but economists expect Beijing will also move to cut bank reserves ratios for the first time since May 2012.

Markets in China, which accounts for about 40 percent of copper demand, were closed for a holiday on Monday.

“With the Chinese markets closed today, conditions have been relatively quiet and things may not pick up until late next week when a slew of Chinese macro data is released,” said Ed Meir, analyst at INTL FCStone.

Chinese macro data due next week includes gross domestic product (GDP), retail sales and house prices.

Meir said he saw the next resistance level at $6,780.

In the wider markets, world stocks slipped on Monday from last week’s six-year high as technology shares tumbled again.

“If negative equity sentiment prevails, that might overflow into other sectors of the economy ... then people will start to lose confidence,” said Jonathan Barratt of Barratt’s Bulletin in Sydney.

Reflecting a slightly less bearish view on the economy, hedge funds and money managers trimmed their net shorts in copper in the week to April 1, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday.

In industry news, Pan Pacific Copper, Japan’s biggest copper smelter, plans to produce 280,900 tonnes of refined copper during April-September, up 5.5 percent from the same period last year, it said on Monday.

Aluminium closed at $1,817 a tonne, down 0.3 percent.

The LME said on Monday it plans to launch a physically-settled aluminium premium contract and may expand it to other metals.

Nickel closed up 0.2 percent at $16,410 a tonne and tin was up 0.3 percent at $23,225.

The global nickel surplus will shrink to about 50,000 tonnes this year on stronger-than-expected demand and as an export ban on nickel ore by top producer Indonesia takes hold, the Lisbon-based International Nickel Study Group (INSG) said.

Indonesian curbs on tin exports are offering a prop to Chinese producers facing slumping demand at home, underpinning global prices and boosting the opportunity to ramp up overseas sales.

Lead closed 0.3 percent higher at $2,065 and zinc was down 0.1 percent at $2,002.

PRICES

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 (Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Sydney; Editing by Pravin Char and Keiron Henderson)

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