October 22, 2014 / 3:08 AM / in 6 years

METALS-London copper holds gains as markets eye ECB bond buys

* Industry week LME week continues in London

* Global refined copper in 77,000 T surplus in July - ICSG

* Coming Up: U.S. Consumer prices at 1230 GMT (Updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

SYDNEY, Oct 22 (Reuters) - London copper paused for breath on Wednesday after lodging its biggest one-day advance in two months as prospects of fresh policy measures in Europe and China, and further signs of economic revival in the United States underpinned prices.

The European Central Bank is considering buying corporate bonds on the secondary market and may decide on the matter as soon as December with a view to begin purchases early next year, several sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Fresh liqudity measures in Europe and prospects of further policy fine tuning in China are buttressing metals prices, even as the U.S. economy picks up.

“Our economists expect China’s policy makers to focus on lowering funding costs, supporting infrastructure investment and stabilizing housing demand,’ said analyst Joel Crane of Morgan Stanley in Melbourne.

“All three of those things are positive commodities.”

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was little changed at $6,654 a tonne by 0705 GMT, after a 1.6 percent gain in the previous session, its biggest one-day rise since Aug. 20. Prices are still down more than 9 percent this year.

Many metals executives have flown to London for an industry week this week, leaving desks in Asia low staffed and draining liquidity from the market.

U.S. home resales raced to a one-year high in September, the latest indication the housing market recovery is gradually getting back on track.

The most-traded January copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 0.9 percent to 47,070 yuan(7,695) a tonne.

Growth in China real estate investment slowed in the first nine months of 2014, while property sales and new construction tumbled, helping to drag broader economic growth to a near six-year low.

But China’s central bank is likely to hold its line against an interest rate cut even as growth slows to a quarter-century trough, as the politics of reform influence the conduct of monetary policy, government sources involved in internal policy discussions say.

Illustrating an improvement in copper supply that has loomed over prices, the global world refined copper market showed a 77,000 tonne surplus in July, compared with a 63,000 tonne deficit in June, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) said in its latest monthly bulletin.

However, for the first seven months of the year, the market was in a 589,000 tonnes deficit compared with a 22,000 tonnes surplus in the same period a year earlier.

Based on expectations for a surplus next year, most respondents to a poll by Macquarie of its metals clients were happy to bet copper prices would fall.

“Copper is now the favourite short for the first time since the global financial crisis on strong supply growth,” Macquarie said.

“The results also show a large swing in participant preference towards nickel, despite weak recent performance.”

LME nickel traded flat on Wednesday, having fallen to its weakest in more than seven months on Tuesday at $15,080 a tonne.

LME nickel prices had rocketed more than 50 percent by May after top exporter Indonesia banned ore shipments in January, leaving China’s vast stainless steel industry short of supply.

But record LME stockpiles and a move by China’s mills to supplement their stocks with Philippine ore have pared year-to-date gains to around 8 percent.

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 = 6.1205 Chinese yuan $1 = 6.1170 Chinese yuan Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Anand Basu

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