August 3, 2017 / 10:33 AM / 3 years ago

METALS-Copper holds near two-year high on China demand

* LME/ShFE arb: (Updates with closing prices)

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Copper held near two-year highs on Thursday and nickel rose for a 10th straight session, supported by expectations of stronger demand from top consumer China and a weak dollar though gains were limited by profit-taking.

While the rally may have slowed, “the fundamentals remain quite strong. We’ve seen no real weakness in economic data.” said ETF Securities analyst Nitesh Shah.

COPPER: Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended unchanged at 6,352 a tonne, close to Monday’s two-year high of $6,430 and up 14 percent since early June.

CHINA: Growth in China’s services sector slowed in July, a survey showed on Thursday, but data earlier showed manufacturing grew strongly, underpinning demand for metals.

CHINA SCRAP: Proposed Chinese restrictions on scrap imports may, however, have a limited impact on the refined copper market, Barclays analysts said: “Net consumption and scrap production rates are likely to remain the same, with only the supply chain and country of refining changing.”

U.S. FACTORIES: New orders for U.S.-made goods saw their biggest increase in eight months, but manufacturing is expected to continue to grow at a moderate pace.

GRASBERG: An international trade union will press Indonesia to reinstate thousands of striking workers at Grasberg, the world’s second-largest copper mine.

COPPER STOCKS: Prices were supported by a fall in on-warrant stocks at LME-registered warehouses to 189,900 tonnes from more than 230,000 in mid-July after 8,700 tonnes of cancellations. MCUSTX-TOTAL

NICKEL: LME nickel closed up 0.3 percent at $10,380 a tonne in its 10th day of gains after touching a four-month high of $10,445 earlier in the session.

FUNDAMENTALS: Expectations of stronger demand from Chinese stainless steel mills and concerns over supplies from top nickel ore exporter the Philippines have boosted the metal.

BATTERIES: Soaring cobalt prices are prompting Asian battery makers to add more nickel to battery recipes.

SUPPLY: But ore exports from Indonesia are increasing, with licences for exports totalling 8.1 million tonnes granted since a ban was relaxed in January, analysts at Commerzbank said.

DOLLAR: The U.S. dollar was near 15-month lows, fuelling demand for dollar-denominated metals because they are cheaper for holders of other currencies. FRX/

SPECULATORS: “Much of the recent strength across industrial metals has been financially driven (whether dollar related/money inflows),” brokers Marex Spectron said in a note, warning that physical metal demand may not justify gains and increased financial interest could cause price volatility.

PRICES: Aluminium finished down 0.5 percent at $1,916, zinc ended 0.3 percent lower at $2,792, lead rose 0.6 percent to $2,367 and tin closed up 0.3 percent at $20,650 a tonne.

Additional reporting by James Regan; Editing by David Clarke and Mark Potter

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