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METALS-Copper up on dollar, demand concerns limit gains

Saturday, Jul 03, 2010

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - Copper bounced on Friday as the dollar fell against a basket of major currencies but nervousness about global economic growth and demand were expected to check price gains.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was untraded at the close but last bid at $6,410 a tonne from $6,335 at the close on Thursday when the metal used in power and construction hit a two-week low of $6,318 a tonne.

The dollar slipped against the euro after data showed a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. June nonfarm payrolls to 125,000, while the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 9.5 percent.

"Everyone built it up into something quite amazing (but) the only positive view you can take is that the overall unemployment went down," said Alex Heath, head of base metals at RBC Capital Markets.

"The dollar seems to be on a bit of a hiding at the moment … on the back of that, I would have thought metals should have been a lot higher."

Behind the latest sell-off in industrial metal markets has been below-consensus readings from surveys of the manufacturing sectors in the United States and China, the world's top two consumers of copper.

Euro zone manufacturing slowed in June to its weakest growth rate in four months but was unrevised from a survey estimate just over a week ago.

"Everyone knew things were slowing down a bit," said Heath. "With cutbacks and austerity measures imposed, nobody should be terribly surprised to see GDP shrinking or PMI slowing down. On the other hand the numbers are still good in China."


Also weighing on metals was news that Australia ended a damaging dispute with global miners by dumping its "super profits" tax for a lower resources rent tax backed by key global miners.

As a result Swiss-based Xstrata reinstated about A$600 million of copper mining and exploration projects in Australia.

"It's not a big number by itself, but if others follow, it does mean higher supplies down the road," a metals trader said.

But he added that stocks in LME warehouses were still falling and that would help prop up sentiment.

Stocks of copper fell 2,125 tonnes to 447,300 tonnes, the lowest since early December last year. Aluminium stocks were down 5,150 tonnes to 4.2 million tonnes, about 220,000 tonnes below the record high of 4.64 million tonnes set in January.

Aluminium, used in transport and packaging, is also supported by financing deals that have tied up more than 70 percent of LME inventories.

Three-month aluminium closed at $1,942 a tonne from $1,926 at the close on Thursday. Zinc was untraded at the close but last bid at $1,775 a tonne from $1,743 on Thursday. Earlier the metal used to galvanise steel jumped more than 4 percent to touch $1,820.

Galvanised steel producers are estimated to account for more than 50 percent of global zinc demand, forecast at around 12 million tonnes this year.

"An increase in activity … has led to an improved fundamental backdrop. Some of the steel production increases were driven by restocking," Bank of America said in a note.

"In Germany, for instance, we believe that investment in galvanised steel stocks added around 2 percent to the country's zinc consumption."

Lead closed at $1,753 a tonne from $1,735 on Thursday, tin at $17,240 from $16,960 and nickel at $18,800 from $19,000.

Metal Prices at 1610 GMT Metal Last Change Percent Move End 2009 Ytd Percent.

(source: Reuters)

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