November 14, 2019 / 4:30 PM / 23 days ago

METALS-Copper slides to two-week low as China data hits sentiment

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

* Zinc prices drop to lowest since Oct. 18 (Updates with closing prices)

By Pratima Desai

LONDON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell to two-week lows on Thursday as weak manufacturing and investment data from China fuelled concerns about demand in the top consumer and expectations of lower interest rates in the United States receded.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended down 0.4% at $5,812 a tonne having touched a session low of $5,807. Prices of the metal used widely in the power and construction industries have dropped more than 10% since the 2019 peak above $6,600 hit in April.

“The Chinese data was really weak and the rise in U.S. producer prices means a Fed rate cut could be shelved,” a metals trader said, adding that comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell seemed to reinforce that thinking.

This would support the U.S. currency, which when it rises makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies, subduing demand.

This relationship is used by funds that trade using buy and sell signals generated by numerical models.

PPI: U.S. producer prices increased by the most in six months in October, lifted by gains in the costs of goods and services, bolstering the Fed’s stance that it will probably not cut rates again in the near term.

RATES: Among other things, Powell said the October employment report was “very solid”, the probability of recession was not elevated and that the U.S. consumer sector was very strong.

DATA: China’s industrial output grew significantly slower than expected in October, as weakness in global and domestic demand and the drawn-out U.S.-China trade war weighed on activity.

Thursday’s data also showed fixed asset investment, a key driver of economic growth, grew 5.2% from January-October, the lowest since Reuters’ records began in 1996. The consensus was for growth of 5.4%.

TRADE: China and the United States are holding “in-depth” discussions on a first phase trade agreement, and cancelling tariffs is an important condition to reaching a deal, the Chinese commerce ministry said.

STIMULUS: China has been relying on a combination of fiscal stimulus and monetary easing to weather the current slowdown, but room for aggressive policy action has been limited by worries over debt and housing risks.

PRICES: Aluminium closed down 1.3% at $1,742, zinc slipped 1.1% to $2,396, lead fell 0.9% to $2,017, tin rose 1.2% to $16,200 and nickel ceded 1.7% to $15,120.

ZINC: Prices of the metal used to galvanise steel earlier touched $2,387.5 a tonne, the lowest since Oct. 18, on concerns about demand from steel producers in China, hidden stocks and expectations of rising output. (Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans)

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