July 16, 2018 / 8:27 AM / 3 months ago

METALS-London copper eases after China Q2 data; eyes on tariff response

(Updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, July 16 (Reuters) - London copper slipped but held above recent one-year lows on Monday after China’s second-quarter growth slowed as expected, with the focus expected to shift to Beijing’s response to the latest U.S. tariffs plan.

China’s economic growth slowed in the second quarter as the government’s efforts to tackle debt risks crimp activity and an intensifying trade war with the United States threatens to knock exports.

At 6.7 percent, growth came in line with expectations, said analyst Lachlan Shaw of UBS in Melbourne, which suggests markets will now watch China for any formal response to the U.S.’s tariff plans.

There is some evidence that China has begun easing credit restrictions, which would be supportive mostly for bulks and to a lesser extent to copper and aluminium, he said.

“There’s been some chatter that a bit more lending is being directed to SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) in the hinterlands around the big cities and certainly if the government takes its foot off the brake a bit, then that’s probably going to end up in infrastructure.”

FUNDAMENTALS

* LME COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper was down 0.3 percent at $6,217 a tonne, as of 0815 GMT, after closing little changed on Friday. Prices last week slumped to their lowest in a year at $6,081 a tonne on concerns that an escalation in trade tariffs could dent demand. Prices have shed 14 percent this year.

* SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper eased 0.2 percent to 48720 yuan ($7,284) a tonne, recovering for a third trading session since last week’s one-year trough.

* US ECONOMY: The Federal Reserve on Friday pointed to “solid” U.S. economic growth during the first half of the year and also reiterated that it expected to continue to raise interest rates gradually.

* ALUMINIUM: China’s aluminium producers are responding to tighter supply conditions by boosting output, data showed. China’s June output rose by 0.8 percent to 2.83 million tonnes, which on daily basis was the highest since June 2017, according to Reuters’ calculations based on official data.

* INVESTORS: Copper speculators switched to a net short position of 12,919 contracts, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said last week, the weakest position since December 2016.

* NICKEL: Prices of steel-linked metals nickel and zinc came under pressure on lower demand expectations after China’s top steelmaking city, Tangshan, ordered steel mills to shut sintering plants for five days on Friday due to forecasts of heavy smog over the weekend.

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 = 6.6883 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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