November 30, 2015 / 3:52 AM / 4 years ago

METALS-Copper, nickel fail to fizz even as China smelters plan output cuts

* China copper smelters agree to trim output

* Solid US jobs report could clinch Dec rate hike, pressure metals

* Coming up: U.S. Chicago PMI Nov at 1445 GMT (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, Nov 30 (Reuters) - London copper and nickel eked out modest gains on Monday, disappointing traders who bet that a wave of planned output cuts by struggling Chinese producers could help shore up prices.

Nine large copper producers in China agreed an initial plan to cut refined metal output at the weekend, following moves already announced by China’s nickel and zinc makers. But the step did little to stoke metals prices.

“Across the metals space, one of the big concerns is that even with prices at multi-year lows, the degree of production curtailments has been viewed as modest,” said Citi analyst Ivan Szpakowski in Hong Kong.

“They don’t seem to have made a final decision on how much copper could be cut and in the absence of any concrete production cuts, prices have gone nowhere. Unless you get western firms also cutting (nickel output) the Chinese move is not going to be enough to support the global picture.”

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange erased early losses to rise 0.2 percent at $4,583.50 a tonne by 0613 GMT, after a loss of 1.4 percent in the previous session. Prices are bumping along near six-and-a-half-year lows of $4,443.50 a tonne hit a week ago.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper cut more than 2 percent losses to close down 1 percent at 34,850 yuan ($5,448) a tonne.

ShFE nickel ShFE zinc and aluminium all ended down 2 percent each.

Nine large copper producers in China have agreed an initial plan to cut refined metal production by more than 200,000 tonnes in 2016, or around 5 percent from this year’s level, an executive at one of the producers said on Saturday.

China’s nickel producers said on Friday they plan to slash output of refined metal and nickel pig iron (NPI), the first major coordinated move in the industry globally to lift prices out of their worst slump in more than a decade.

Meanwhile, activity in China’s manufacturing sector likely shrank for a fourth straight month in November, a Reuters poll for data due on Tuesday showed, underlining persistent sluggishness in the world’s second-largest economy.

The world’s two biggest central banks will move decisively in opposing directions this coming week, with the ECB almost certain to ease policy on Thursday and a U.S. jobs report likely to seal the case for a Fed rate hike in December.

“If you get a strong payrolls number this Friday, the market is probably going to move to fully pricing in a rate hike at this point, so on Friday and Monday you’ll probably get a (negative) reaction in metals prices,” Szpakowski 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 = 6.3966 Chinese yuan Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Subhranshu Sahu

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