June 24, 2015 / 2:56 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-London copper turns higher, Greece in focus

* China’s copper imports down 12 pct in January-May

* ShFE lead up 1 pct as stocks dwindle amid pollution crackdown

* Coming up: German IFO sentiment data at 0800 GMT (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, June 24 (Reuters) - London copper erased early losses on Wednesday to turn higher, as the focus shifted from a seasonal decline in demand to optimism over a potential deal on Greek debt and as the dollar weakened.

“Clearly, the issues in Greece are impacting sentiment and no one really wants to jump on board here just yet,” said analyst Daniel Hynes of ANZ in Sydney.

“If you’re willing to take a medium-term view, over the next 6-12 months, these levels do look attractive,” he said, adding that problems with mine supply were expected to offer support.

Greece’s left-wing government expressed confidence on Tuesday that parliament would approve a debt deal with lenders, despite an angry reaction from some of its own lawmakers who accused it of caving in to pressure for more austerity.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had edged up 0.2 percent to $5,791.50 a tonne by 0725 GMT after jumping 2.2 percent on Tuesday. However, prices have been trending down since mid-May and hit the lowest in three months at $5,642.50 a tonne on Monday.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose 0.8 percent to 42,190 yuan ($6,797) a tonne.

China’s refined copper imports fell to near 275,000 tonnes in May and were down 12.4 percent so far this year, the latest data showed.

“(That was due to) the combined factors of weak demand in May, particularly strong April (imports) resulting from arbitrage opportunities, and the development of China’s domestic refined copper capacity,” Barclays said in a note.

Prospects for copper and zinc demand improved after China’s top economic planner approved two subway system projects worth 129.8 billion yuan ($20.91 billion), continuing a run of infrastructure approvals as the government looks to support its slowing economy.

Low prices and a lack of water are impeding mine supply from top producer Chile. The Chilean capital of Santiago has experienced the driest June in half a century.

Meanwhile, workers at Chile’s massive Collahuasi copper mine said on Tuesday they would not back down in a conflict with employers and urged miners elsewhere to stage a national strike.

In other metals, LME nickel, aluminium, lead and zinc all climbed about half a percent.

ShFE lead prices rose 1.6 percent as China’s crackdown on pollution hits supply, with exchange stocks at the lowest since late 2012. PB-STX-SGH

Elsewhere, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing is eager to wring value from its $2.2 billion purchase of the London Metal Exchange but the chances of it emulating in metals its success in connecting with stock traders on the mainland may be slipping away.

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

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

$1 = 6.2066 Chinese yuan renminbi $1 = 6.2072 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Alan Raybould

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