June 25, 2015 / 3:07 AM / 5 years ago

REFILE-METALS-London copper rises in thin trade, Greece deal eyed

(Corrects day to ‘Thursday’ from ‘Tuesday’ in paragraph 11)

* UBS sees nickel prices recovering above $18,000 by 1H 2016

* Coming Up: 1230 US Initial jobless claims weekly

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, June 25 (Reuters) - London copper climbed half a percent on Thursday as short-holders booked profits to cut risk, with the clock ticking on efforts to reach a deal on Greece’s debt.

Negotiations to avert a Greek debt default stumbled on Wednesday and euro zone finance ministers accused Athens of refusing to compromise despite a deadline next week that could put it on a path out of the euro zone.

But recent downward pressure on copper prices may prove temporary as the metal finds support from improving demand, said analyst Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong. London copper hit a three month low on Monday.

“We have a positive view on copper prices. We are looking at a lot of data now that points to a demand recovery in May from April - production of cable, transformers, air conditioners...We think copper is oversold, and is just waiting for some newsflow to recover again.”

China is the world’s top copper user, accounting for around 45 percent of demand.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged up 0.6 percent to $5,772.50 a tonne by 0247 GMT, reversing losses from the previous session when it closed softer despite hitting its highest since June 16 at $5,828.50 a tonne.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper slipped 0.2 percent to 41,940 yuan ($6,756) a tonne.

Boosting copper supply prospects, world No.1 copper producer Codelco will officially open its newest mine, Ministro Hales, in coming months, after fixing a problematic production unit, a source close to the company said.

On nickel, UBS has joined ANZ to suggest fundamentals are tightening and prices may improve into next year, given China’s jump in imports of nickel products and early signs of a sustained downturn in LME inventories.

“Nickel spot of around $5.80 a pound represents good value to us with the price around the 42nd percentile of global mining costs...We forecast a fleeting price rise to $8.25/lb in 2016H1 ($18,188 a tonne).”

LME nickel hit a six-year lows of $12,205 in mid April, and traded up 0.3 percent $12,800 a tonne on Thursday.

In other metals, Shfe tin fell 1.5 percent to 111,840 yuan a tonne, tracking losses on the LME as prices reversed a short covering rally.

The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter but less than previously estimated as it struggled with bad weather, a strong dollar, spending cuts in the energy sector and West Coast port disruptions.

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 = 6.2061 Chinese yuan renminbi $1 = 6.2081 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford

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