October 22, 2015 / 5:05 AM / 4 years ago

METALS-London copper climbs, better China imports support

* China copper premiums slip $5 to $115, lowest since early Sept

* CCB to buy majority stake in LME ring dealer Metdist

* Coming up: U.S. existing home sales at 1400 GMT (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, Oct 22 (Reuters) - London copper inched higher on Thursday after hitting two-week lows in the previous session, buoyed by a pick up in Chinese imports in September, but persistent concerns over the health of the world’s No.2 economy kept prices in check.

Copper prices were also supported by the latest disruption to mining, with analysts estimating mine supply has undershot planned productiom by nearly 1 million tonnes this year.

“Despite news of a strike at Chinalco’s Peruvian copper mine ... the markets have only managed the weakest of forays into positive territory on the thinnest of volumes,” Malcolm Freeman of Kingdom Futures said in a note.

“This suggests that all the markets will resume their downward path for the coming London session and probably into tomorrow as well.”

Workers at Chinalco Mining Corp International’s Toromocho copper mine in Peru started a two-day strike on Wednesday as they demand a salary increase, a union leader said.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had risen 1 percent to $5,203 a tonne by 0422 GMT on Thursday, after marking the lowest in nearly two weeks in the previous session at $5,136 a tonne.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper climbed 0.5 percent to 39,270 yuan ($6,187) a tonne. ShFE zinc and aluminium fared worse, falling around 1.5 percent.

Bonded premiums for copper in China declined $5 to $110-120, the lowest since early September. <0#BASEBW-SHMET>

China’s refined copper imports jumped 22 percent in September to more than 350,000 tonnes.

The slowdown in China’s economy is sucking the growth out of North Asia and tilting some economies towards recession.

Meanwhile, Chinese demand for zinc to rust proof cars is brightening prospects for the metal as mine supply dwindles, with the market to tighten from the current quarter, chief of China-backed miner MMG Ltd Andrew Michelmore said on Thursday.

China Construction Bank (CCB) said on Wednesday it would buy a majority stake in UK metals trading firm Metdist Trading Limited, becoming the second Chinese company to gain access to the 138-year old London Metal Exchange’s trading floor.

Operations at Glencore Plc’s Nickel Rim South mine in Sudbury, Ontario were suspended until further notice for a second day on Wednesday after a worker was killed underground on Tuesday morning.

LME nickel prices climbed 1.3 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

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

$1 = 6.3474 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford

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