October 15, 2015 / 2:01 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-London copper near 4-wk high as miners consider output cuts

* Collahuasi copper mine expansion has been postponed

* Expectations for US rate rise delay dent dollar, support metals

* Coming up: US consumer prices at 1230 GMT (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, Oct 15 (Reuters) - London copper rose on Thursday and was trading within reach of its highest in four weeks as more miners said they were reconsidering production plans and as a weaker dollar buttressed prices.

“Cuts to supply will support prices, they won’t provide the reason for a sustained rally,” said analyst Lachlan Shaw at UBS in Sydney.

“It’s a patchy recovery still. We have China third quarter growth on Monday and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some pretty weak numbers. There’s general lethargy in emerging market demand, it’s broader than China. Until we see demand catch up and move past capacity, I don’t see how we are going to get sustained lift in prices.”

Mixed U.S. economic data is eroding the case for a rate rise before the end of the year.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had edged up 0.3 percent to $5,315 a tonne by 0753 GMT, holding 0.5 percent gains from the previous session and within reach of three-week highs at $5,356 a tonne tipped a week ago.

Prices are slowly recovering from six-year lows below $5,000 a tonne touched in late August.

LME nickel climbed 1.4 percent and lead 0.7 percent on prospects low prices would force output cuts.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper climbed 0.8 percent to 40,020 yuan ($6,304) a tonne while ShFE tin rallied 1.6 percent amid a shortfall in futures positions, despite ample physical supply.

China’s economic growth is expected to fall below 7 percent for the first time since the global financial crisis in the third quarter, putting pressure on policymakers to roll out more support measures.

The country’s economic planner said it approved 218 fixed-asset projects worth 1.81 trillion yuan ($285.3 billion) in the first nine months of the year, as Beijing looks to drive infrastructure investment to support slowing economic growth.

Also supporting prices, U.S. retail sales barely rose in September and producer prices recorded their biggest decline in eight months, raising further doubts about whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year.

This dragged on the dollar, and lifted metals prices, which became cheaper for buyers holding other currencies.

On the supply side, Chile’s second-biggest copper mine Collahuasi, owned by Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc , has postponed expansion plans, on top of its previously announced cuts.

Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, also said it will have to rethink or delay expansion projects after lower metal prices weighed on its earnings.

An El Nino weather pattern that is expected to be the strongest in nearly 20 years looks set to hit copper mining over the coming months, but should boost production of bauxite, nickel ore and tin in 2016, industry sources said.

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 = 6.3481 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Biju Dwarakanath)

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