METALS-Copper slides to 3-month low on worries about China growth

* Lead, nickel at 5-mth lows; aluminium, zinc at 2-mth lows

* U.S. existing home sales unexpectedly fall

* Focus on Tuesday’s flash HSBC PMI for China (Updates with closing prices)

LONDON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Copper skidded to a three-month low on Monday, weighed by demand concerns ahead of manufacturing data from top consumer China that is likely to show stalling factory growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) closed 1.7 percent weaker at $6,720.50 a tonne after touching $6,707.25, its lowest level since June 19.

Copper is trading more than 8 percent lower so far this year, pressured by uncertainty about demand and a looming surplus, analysts said.

Other metals also tumbled to multi-month lows in intraday trade, with lead and nickel falling to their lowest levels since early April at $2,051 and $16,924 respectively while aluminium and zinc dropped to their lowest levels since July at $1,952 and $2,216.

Ahead of Tuesday’s flash HSBC/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a Reuters poll showed growth in China’s large factory sector probably stalled in September, adding to worries the economy could be at risk of a sharper slowdown unless Beijing rolls out more stimulus measures.

China is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for around 40 percent of global refined demand.

“The big concern out there seems to be about China. Everybody is getting increasingly worried about the economy and the real estate sector and there are question marks about when we might get additional policy stimulus (from China),” Nic Brown, head of commodity research at Natixis, said.

China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said on Sunday the country would not dramatically alter its economic policy because of any one economic indicator. The remarks came days after many economists lowered growth forecasts having seen the latest set of weak data.

“The reality is people are not taking much comfort from China’s efforts to really stimulate the economy,” Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS Wealth Management in Singapore, said.

While U.S. growth has generally been robust recently, data on Monday showed home resales unexpectedly fell in August as investors stepped away from the market.


Also weighing on sentiment was the expectation of more copper supplies entering the market.

Highlighting increased supplies, Newmont Mining Corp said it was expected to resume copper concentrate shipments from Indonesia this week after receiving an export permit from the government, signalling the end of an eight-month tax dispute.

The copper market is expected to be in a 226,000 tonne surplus by the end of 2014, rising to 285,000 tonnes in 2015, a Reuters poll in July showed.

Analysts said the downbeat sentiment in markets and weak signals from charts meant more losses were likely in several metals, including aluminium, which clawed back losses to close unchanged at $1,976 per tonne.

“The aluminium charts are looking pretty grim,” said analyst Edward Meir at broker INTL FCStone. “The $1,980 support level has given way on a two-day closing basis and we now see $1,905 as being next support.”

Nickel was the biggest loser, falling 4.2 percent to end at $17,025 a tonne.

“Nickel... is still waiting for its supposedly bullish fundamentals to reassert themselves, leaving it vulnerable in the meantime,” said analyst Leon Westgate at Standard Bank.

Zinc closed down 1.5 percent at $2,240 a tonne, lead fell 0.9 percent to $2,064.50, and tin, which failed to trade in closing rings, was last bid at $21,150, down 0.5 percent.


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

Three month LME tin (Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in Singapore; editing by Jason Neely)