August 22, 2018 / 10:50 AM / 3 months ago

METALS-Copper down as hopes for progress on trade dispute fade

* China’s central bank will not resort to strong stimulus

* Large holder of zinc warrants cuts position (Updates with closing prices)

By Pratima Desai

LONDON, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Copper prices slipped on Wednesday as worries about demand resurfaced ahead of trade talks between the United States and China that are seen as unlikely to yield progress.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended down 0.7 percent at $6,005 a tonne, after hitting a one-week high of $6,076 on Tuesday.

“At the start of the week there was optimism for some sort of arrangement to stop the escalation of tariffs, but that seems unlikely now,” Capital Economics analyst Caroline Bain said.

“Demand in China held up better than expected in the first half but there are signs the slowdown is under way. If they loosen policy it will take until the middle of next year to see any tangible effects and any loosening is likely to only stabilise the economy, not give it a boost.”

TRADE: U.S. and Chinese officials are set to resume contentious trade talks on Wednesday under the cloud of a prediction by U.S. President Donald Trump that there would be no real progress.

The discussions among mid-level officials could set a framework for further negotiations as each country prepares to hit the other with new tariffs on Thursday in a deepening dispute over China’s economic policies.

CHINA: China accounts for nearly half of global copper consumption estimated at 24 million tonnes. The United States accounts for about 8 percent.

INFRASTRUCTURE: China almost quadrupled the value of fixed-asset investment projects approved in July from the previous month as Beijing looked to accelerate infrastructure spending to stabilise the cooling economy.

CHINA STIMULUS: China’s central bank said it will not resort to strong stimulus to support the slowing economy, but will keep liquidity reasonably ample and offer more help to companies that are having trouble obtaining financing.

STOCKS: Cancelled warrants - material earmarked for delivery - for copper in LME-approved warehouses - have risen above 67,000 tonnes, from around 25,000 tonnes last week. The latest number is about 25 percent of LME copper stocks. MCUSTX-TOTAL

ZINC: Worries about a tight LME zinc market have receded as a large holding of 50 to 79 percent of stocks has been cut.

That is reflected in the small discount for the cash over the three-month contract from a premium above $60 a tonne at the beginning of August. CMZN0-3 <0#LME-WHL>

DOLLAR: A softer U.S. currency was helping to support prices of dollar-denominated industrial metals, as it makes them cheaper for non-U.S. firms.

PRICES: Aluminium ended up 0.5 percent at $2,065 a tonne, zinc gained 1.7 percent to $2,467, lead rose 0.2 percent to $2,013, tin added 1.8 percent to $19,370 and nickel fell 0.3 percent to $13,525.

Reporting by Pratima Desai; Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Dale Hudson and Kirsten Donovan

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