April 21, 2016 / 10:17 AM / 4 years ago

METALS-Copper hits four-week high as China optimism gains momentum

* Copper up by about 8 pct since start of last week

* Next major hurdle for copper at $5,130-$5,140 (Releads, adds closing prices)

By Pratima Desai

LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - Copper rose to a four-week high on Thursday, boosted by rising expectations of improving demand growth from China after a string of stronger economic data from the top consumer.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange finished with a 0.4 percent gain at $5,000 a tonne, having peaked earlier at $5,065 and dipped to a low of $4,930 after funds cut bets on higher commodity prices after New York opened.

However, prices of the metal used in power and construction are up about 8 percent since the start of last week.

Higher than expected Chinese industrial production and investment data in March, a surge in property sales in the first quarter, rising exports and above-consensus loan growth have all contributed to optimism in base metals markets.

“The big driver for base metals is the positive economic data from China, including the property market and credit growth,” said Bank of China International’s head of commodity strategy, Xiao Fu.

“Sentiment should remain positive over the coming months, though momentum may slow slightly over the summer, when industrial activity tends to be slower.”

China accounts for nearly half of global copper consumption estimated at about 22 million tonnes this year.

Copper’s break above the 200-day moving average at around $4,915 could mean further gains, one trader said. “There’s very little in the way technically until $5,130 to $5,140.”

Those levels are around the high seen on March 18 and Fibonacci technical resistance. Aluminium, too, faces Fibonacci resistance at $1,640 a tonne.

One hurdle could be thrown up by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which meets next week. The central bank is expected to keep interest rates on hold, but all markets will be scrutinising its statement for clues to the direction of rates.

Higher rates could mean a stronger U.S. currency, which would make dollar-denominated metals more expensive for non-U.S. buyers — a relationship used by funds to generate buy and sell signals using numerical models.

Three-month aluminium gained 0.8 percent to $1,635, having touched a seven-month high of $1,646.5.

Prices of aluminium on the LME have been pushed up by worries about tight supply created by a rising tide of cancelled warrants — metal already earmarked for delivery and therefore not available to the market — at above 46 percent, equating to more than 1.25 million tonnes.

Three-month zinc fell 1.2 percent to $1,916 a tonne, lead rose 0.6 percent to $1,781.5, tin lost 0.3 percent to $17,150 and nickel slid 2.4 percent to $9,100.

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 (Editing by David Goodman)

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