December 17, 2018 / 11:48 AM / 2 years ago

METALS-Copper slips on concern about weaker growth, demand

(Adds analyst comment, updates prices, changes dateline from MELBOURNE/BEIJING)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Copper and most other base metals slipped on Monday on worries that weaker global growth will curb demand, but many investors were on the sidelines ahead of key economic meetings in China and the United States.

“We’re seeing losses because some of the growth numbers have been pretty weak, particularly out of Europe last week. There’s also no sign of any China stimulus and U.S. growth seems to have now peaked,” said Robin Bhar, head of metals research at Societe Generale in London.

China’s retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2003 and its industrial output rose the least in nearly three years, according to official data released last week.

“With the numbers last week being pretty poor, maybe the government will do a bit more stimulus than the market’s expecting, so that might be a positive for the metals,” Bhar added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to deliver a speech on Tuesday to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up while the nation’s Central Economic Work Conference is also set for this week.

Investors were also eyeing an interest rate decision and forward guidance by the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange, down about 15 percent this year, was 0.3 percent weaker at $6,111 a tonne by 1115 GMT.

* ALUMINIUM STOCKS: On-warrant LME aluminium inventories MALSTX-TOTAL, metal in warehouses not earmarked for delivery, gained 5 percent to 958,550 tonnes, daily data showed on Monday.

They have surged 58 percent since the start of October, partly because Chinese restrictions of scrap imports have created a surplus of primary metal outside of China, and also due to end-of-year accounting considerations, Bhar said.

LME benchmark aluminium dipped 0.2 percent to $1,922 a tonne.

* ZINC: On-warrant LME zinc stocks MZNSTX-TOTAL have gained 21 percent since the start of December, having been attracted by the strong premium of cash zinc over the three month contract CMZN0-3, which peaked at a record of $125 a tonne on Dec. 5.

The rise of LME inventories has helped push the premium down to $26 a tonne at the close on Friday.

Three-month LME zinc shed 0.3 percent to $2,534.50 a tonne.

* LEAD: LME lead was the biggest mover, sliding 1.1 percent to $1,927.50 a tonne. The speculative short position in the metal had expanded to 13 percent of open interest as of last Thursday, according to estimates from broker Marex Spectron.

* VEDANTA: An Indian environment court set aside on Saturday the Tamil Nadu state government’s order to close Vedanta’s copper smelter plant permanently, taking the company closer to reopening its facility in southern India.

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Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Adrian Croft

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