March 12, 2020 / 1:26 PM / 23 days ago

METALS-Copper drops to more than 3-year low as coronavirus fears grip markets

* U.S. coronavirus measures underwhelm market

* ECB unveils fresh stimulus

* Virus peaks in China - officials (Adds closing prices)

By Zandi Shabalala

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Copper fell to its lowest in over three years on Thursday after the United States imposed curbs on travel from Europe due to the coronavirus and gave little detail on other plans to cushion its economy from the pandemic.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) ended 1.6% lower at $5,440 a tonne, after falling as low as $5,376.50, its weakest since November 2016.

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered travel from Europe to the United States to be restricted for 30 days, responding to mounting pressure to take action against the rapidly spreading outbreak.

But a lack of other U.S. measures, despite pledges of support for businesses and requests for a payroll-tax relief, disappointed investors, analysts said.

“Markets across the board are in risk-off mode, everything is in panic mode,” said WisdomTree commodity strategist Nitesh Shah.

“There is not enough clarity and decisiveness with (Trump’s) action and the market doesn’t seem to be impressed.”

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: The U.S. travel restrictions follow similar moves by other countries to restrict travel to contain the virus that has disrupted economic activity mainly in China, the world’s top consumer of metals.

PANDEMIC: The World Health Organization described the new coronavirus as a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday, urging the global community to intensify efforts to contain the outbreak.

VIRUS PEAKS: In China, the epicentre of the virus, the epidemic passed its peak as new infections slowed, its top health commission said on Thursday.

STIMULUS: The European Central Bank approved fresh stimulus measures on Thursday to help the euro zone economy cope with the growing cost of the coronavirus epidemic, but kept interest rates unchanged.

The move to support Europe mirrored efforts by other economies such as the United States, United Kingdom and Japan to counter the impact of the virus and support economic growth.

NICKEL INVENTORIES: On-warrant stocks of nickel in LME-approved warehouses jumped to 160,842 tonnes, the highest since December 2018. MNISTX-TOTAL

This helped push LME nickel down 4.8% to $11,830 a tonne, its lowest since June 2019.

NICKEL SUPPLY: In 2020, Indonesia plans to produce 2.02 million tonnes of processed nickel, such as nickel pig iron and ferronickel, as well as 78,000 tonnes of nickel matte, Energy and Mineral Resources data showed.

OTHER PRICES: LME aluminium fell 1.1% to $1,656 a tonne, zinc eased 2.5% to $1,938, lead added 0.5% to $1,774 and tin shed 3.6% to $16,100 a tonne. (Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Jan Harvey and Elaine Hardcastle)

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