November 22, 2018 / 4:21 AM / 23 days ago

METALS-Copper prices ease amid worries over Sino-U.S. trade tensions

(Adds comment, detail)

By Mai Nguyen

SINGAPORE, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Copper prices slid and other base metals traded in narrow ranges on Thursday, with festering Sino-U.S. trade tensions stoking worries over the outlook for global economic growth.

Trade conflict and higher interest rates are slowing the international economy, though there are no signs of a sharp downturn for now, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The United States and China clashed on Wednesday at a World Trade Organization meeting, with a U.S. envoy accusing Beijing of using the WTO to pursue “non-market” policies and a Chinese official saying it was Washington that was flouting the rulebook.

Base metals traded in tight ranges on Thursday, although the price outlook could improve going into year-end if any signs emerge of a potential thawing in the trade conflict.

“The prospect of Trump being re-elected is higher than it was (before the U.S. mid-term election), then it does increase the incentives for the Chinese to agree to a deal (on trade),” said Guy Wolf, global head of market analytics at Marex Spectron.

COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had eased 0.1 percent to $6,232 a tonne by 0327 GMT, while Shanghai’s most-traded copper contract edged up 0.3 percent to 49,530 yuan ($7,148.11) a tonne.

NICKEL OUTLOOK: Expectations of a supply avalanche hitting the nickel market next year due to new capacity in Indonesia have been dragging on prices, but analysts doubt the plans spearheaded by Chinese firms can be carried out so quickly.

NICKEL SUPPLY: Nickel stockpiles on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SNI-TOTAL-D edged down to 14,911 tonnes on Wednesday, but were still near a three-month high. However, nickel stockpiles in LME warehouse remained at their lowest in five years MNISTX-TOTAL.

PRICES: The most traded ShFE nickel contract fell 1.7 percent to 90,780 yuan a tonne, trading around an 11-month low, while London’s three-month nickel contract edged down 0.1 percent.

U.S. DOLLAR: The dollar was broadly lower in Asian trade on Thursday as demand for safe-haven currencies declined after a rebound in global equities and the euro strengthened on hopes for a resolution of Italy’s budget dispute.

A weaker dollar makes greenback-denominated commodities cheaper to import into countries that use other currencies.

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

ARBS ($1 = 6.9291 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Mai Nguyen Editing by Joseph Radford

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