October 21, 2014 / 9:40 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-Zinc, nickel slide on excess supply, China uncertainty

* Metals industry week LME week continues in London

* China Q3 economic growth slows to 7.3 pct from 7.5 pct in Q2

* Nickel down to 7-month low after LME stocks hit another record (Updates with closing prices)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Nickel hit a seven-month low and zinc slid to its weakest in nearly four months on Tuesday, weighed down by excess supply and doubts about whether China will unveil more stimulus measures after economic growth was slightly better than expected.

Growth in the world’s second-biggest economy cooled to 7.3 percent between July and September from a year earlier, slightly above the 7.2 percent forecast by analysts but slowing from 7.5 percent in the second quarter.

“The Chinese GDP data are in line with our forecasts and if anything the monthly data that came along with it are a little bit more encouraging,” said Caroline Bain, senior commodities economist with consultancy Capital Economics.

“From the market’s point of view, it isn’t as bad as it could have been so the prospect for additional stimulus is less. If it had been very bad, I think markets would have taken some comfort that stimulus measures would be on the way.”

Three-month zinc on the London Metal Exchange, closed at $2,210 a tonne, down 0.2 percent, after touching a session low of $2,166, the weakest since June 25.

“The data looks in line with our central case, which is continued moderation in China’s growth outlook, but still on an absolute basis, reasonably buoyant,” said Daniel Morgan, analyst at UBS in Sydney.

Many speculators had piled into the zinc market earlier in the year, betting big mine closures would lead to shortages, but a deficit has been slower to emerge than some expected.

At the moment, there was no deficit at all in either zinc refined metal or concentrate, Duncan Hobbs, global research manager in hard commodities for trade house Noble, told the LME Week Seminar on Monday.

Bain said a zinc deficit was on the horizon, but would not be felt until next year.

“It’s not fair that zinc has done so well and lead hasn’t because their supply profiles are quite similar. We always knew that the deficit in the zinc market would be felt next year rather than this year,” she said.

Lead ended at $2,029, up 0.6 percent.

DAMAGED NICKEL CHART

Nickel closed at $15,300 a tonne, down 0.5 percent, after hitting a new seven-month low of $15,080 a tonne, which has damaged its chart picture and may trigger further selling, analysts said.

“We remind readers that $15,000/$15,200 is a very important support area, as it was the old resistance area before the March 14 ‘break up’ after a long lateral consolidation,” broker Triland said in a note.

Also weighing on the market was further evidence of a well-supplied market as LME nickel stocks MNISTX-TOTAL rose to a new record peak of 377,136 tonnes.

Other metals were slightly firmer.

Copper, untraded at the close, was bid at $6,668 a tonne, up 1.6 percent, after a loss of 1.2 percent in the previous session. Copper prices hit a six-month trough of $6,530 a tonne on Friday.

On the supply side, higher mine output may not necessarily lead to a surplus in the market for refined copper cathodes next year, as smelters are experiencing a bottleneck of raw material, Europe’s biggest copper smelter Aurubis said on Monday.

Aluminium closed at $1,991, up 0.9 percent and tin was up 0.5 percent at $19,450.

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

Three month LME tin

1 US dollar = 6.1210 Chinese yuan Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Sydney, editing by William Hardy and David Evans

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