(Updates with closing prices)
By Peter Hobson
LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Copper and most other base metal prices fell on Thursday on persistent worries over Chinese demand, but losses in aluminium were tempered by expectations that a crackdown on polluting industry in China will cut supply.
Nickel was the worst LME performer, hitting a three-week low.
Weak economic data this week from China, the world’s top consumer of metals, was still pressuring the market, said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.
“All these metal-intensive sectors (in China), such as construction, infrastructure and property, seem to be on a slowdown ... This is a reality check for metals,” he said.
Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA) funds were weighing on the market with more bearish positions, said Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron.
“CTA sell-programs are likely to continue in the short term,” he said of the largely computer-driven funds.
COPPER: Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed 0.5 percent down at $6,737 a tonne after touching a one-month low of $6,713 on Wednesday.
STOCKS: Copper inventories in LME-registered warehouses fell by 3,900 tonnes to 251,550 tonnes, continuing a steady decline to the lowest since mid-September. MCUSTX-TOTAL
CHINA OUTPUT: Zinc and copper output in China in October jumped to its highest in almost three years. Zinc production rose 3.8 percent year on year to 577,000 tonnes and copper was up 6.3 percent at 781,000 tonnes.
CHINA ECONOMY: China’s economy cooled further last month, with industrial output, fixed-asset investment and retail sales missing expectations.
CHINA RISK: China’s financial sector faces bubble risks, a government official said, adding that a property tax might be on the cards in the near future.
ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium dipped by 0.2 percent to end at $2,102 a tonne, having hit a three-month low of $2,068.50 on Wednesday. Aluminium prices in October rose to their highest since 2012 on expectations of capacity shutdowns in China.
OUTPUT CUTS: China Hongqiao Group said it closed enough smelting pots to comply with output restrictions, but a source said it was looking at moving recently shuttered illegal smelting capacity overseas, mainly to Indonesia.
OVERSUPPLY: “Relocating production capacities (from China) would contribute in the longer term to an oversupply of the global aluminium market,” Commerzbank analysts said.
STOCKS: Julius Baer’s Menke said inventories in China had risen in recent weeks despite capacity closures. “If there is no major drawdown on the inventory side, the market will be fast in pricing in some of the disappointment,” he said.
CHINALCO: A unit of Chinese aluminium company Chinalco plans to start producing bauxite in the West African nation of Guinea this year or early 2018, a company executive said.
PRICES: LME nickel slid 2.7 percent to close at $11,370 a tonne, the weakest since Oct. 27, and zinc fell 0.2 percent to finish at $3,145.
Lead dropped 1.3 percent to close at $2,403.50 after touching its lowest since Oct. 30 at $2,401.50. Tin added 0.1 percent to $19,350.
Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne and Eric Onstad in London; Editing by Edmund Blair and David Goodman