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METALS-Copper prices slip as China cools growth and credit plans

(Updates with prices, Nornickel)

LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Tuesday after modest economic growth targets from China and indications that it could pull back on credit expansion, though analysts remained positive on the metal’s long-term fundamentals.

China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, is widely expected to rein in coronavirus-related stimulus and cool credit growth to contain debt risks.

“The trigger for lower prices came from the latest communication from the Chinese government,” said Gianclaudio Torlizzi at consultancy T-Commodity.

Copper is likely to fall in the next few weeks owing to a lack of immediate bullish drivers, but the transition to a lower-carbon economy, with renewable energy systems that require copper, will be supportive, he said.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 2.1% at $8,817 a tonne by 1740 GMT, erasing the previous session’s 1.1% gain.

CHINA CREDIT: “In line with the goal of supporting growth, the government’s planned fiscal consolidation in 2021 will be more modest than we had previously anticipated,” ratings agency Fitch said.

POSITIONING: The LME net speculative long in copper has fallen to 46% of open interest on Friday from 62% on Feb. 25, which was its highest since 2004, according to estimates by broker Marex Spectron.

DOLLAR: The dollar backed away from 3-1/2 month highs on Tuesday as U.S. Treasury yields stabilised.

CHINA METALS: The head of China’s base metals body on Tuesday said the industry should pay close attention to the risk of speculators driving prices away from fundamentals, warning that sharp fluctuations would “do more harm than good”.

NICKEL: Russia’s Norilsk Nickel said it expects it will be another week before it has an idea of when it can restart two waterlogged mines in Siberia.

OTHER PRICES: Aluminium slipped 0.1% to $2,169 a tonne, zinc lost 0.2% to $2,776, lead dipped 0.1% to $1,976.50 and tin was up 2.1% to $24,840. Nickel , meanwhile, fell 1.1% to $16,170 after touching its lowest since November 2020 at $15,665. (Reporting by Zandi Shabalala Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in HANOI; Editing by David Goodman and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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