June 15, 2016 / 2:45 AM / 3 years ago

METALS-Copper gains on softer dollar ahead of Fed, Brexit vote

* Workers at Colombia nickel mine cancel strike plans

* Coming up: Federal Reserve policy statement at 1800 GMT (Recasts, updates prices)

By Manolo Serapio Jr

MANILA, June 15 (Reuters) - London copper futures rose more than 1 percent on Wednesday as the U.S. dollar retreated ahead of expectations the Federal Reserve will keep rates steady, while a looming British vote on exiting the European Union kept gains in check.

The Fed is unlikely to hike interest rates at the end of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday following a recent batch of weak U.S. data, led by the nonfarm payrolls in May which grew the least since September 2010.

The dollar slipped versus a basket of currencies, making dollar-denominated commodities such as copper cheaper for holders of other currencies.

But analysts say the British referendum on June 23 on leaving the European Union may dominate market sentiment going forward.

“Markets will be focused on the Fed’s dot plot and what Janet Yellen has to say about the timing of the next rate hike. However, this may become irrelevant if Britain does vote for Brexit and markets react negatively into July,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

The Fed’s so-called dot plot, published every three months, shows what individual Fed board members and presidents project will be the expected path of rate hikes over time.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.3 percent at $4,578 a tonne by 0713 GMT. The industrial metal has fallen in three of the past four sessions, touching a four-month low of $4,483.50 on June 9.

The most-traded copper on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed flat at 35,320 yuan ($5,357) a tonne.

Nickel gained along with copper even as union workers at Colombia’s Cerro Matoso nickel mine cancelled plans to strike on Tuesday after reaching a deal on pay increases and benefits.

The mine is owned by Australia’s South32 Ltd, spun off by BHP Billiton a year ago. The Cerro Matoso mine, one of the world’s largest producers of ferronickel, is where a two-week strike last year forced BHP to declare force majeure.

Nickel rose 0.8 percent to $8,965 a tonne on LME and closed 1.3 percent higher at 71,240 yuan a tonne in Shanghai .

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

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

$1 = 6.5933 Chinese yuan Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Ed Davies and Tom Hogue

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