* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates with closing prices)
By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Thursday after weaker than expected manufacturing data from China heightened concerns about demand for the metal used in power and construction.
A protracted trade conflict with the United States has cooled China’s economic growth and weighed on metals prices, raising expectations that Beijing will need to roll out more support measures soon.
China accounts for about half of global copper demand, estimated this year at about 24 million tonnes.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) fell 1.9% to $5,797 a tonne in final open-outcry trading, a one-week low and marking the biggest one-day loss since Aug. 2.
“The Chinese data was not too rosy,” said Commerzbank head of commodities research Eugen Weinberg. “One would hope that the government would start support and put in countermeasures with stimulus because sentiment is rather weak.”
CHINA DATA: Factory activity in China shrank for the sixth straight month in October and by more than expected, while service sector growth eased as companies grapple with the weakest economic growth in nearly 30 years.
TRADE WAR: Leaders from the United States and China encountered a new obstacle in their struggle to end a damaging trade war when the summit at which they were supposed to meet was cancelled on Wednesday because of violent protests in host nation Chile.
Washington and Beijing both said they still expect to sign an initial trade agreement next month.
RIO TINTO: Mining group Rio Tinto has changed its exploration strategy to consider smaller ore deposits that have growth potential because the likelihood of finding large low-cost mines is dwindling, an executive said.
CHILE: September’s manufacturing output in Chile dropped 1.5% from the same month last year, with mine production down 5.4%.
DISRUPTIONS: Mining operations in Chile are facing delays in supplies, travel disruptions and workers walking off to join nationwide protests in what is the South American nation’s biggest political crisis since 1990.
TAILINGS DAMS: A global inquiry into how mining companies store billions of tonnes of waste in huge dams, launched after a collapse in Brazil killed hundreds of people, shows about a tenth of the structures have had stability issues, investors said.
AURUBIS: Europe’s largest copper producer Aurubis remains on the hunt for takeovers with a war chest of about $1 billion, its chief executive said, pushing on with diversification after the early departure of its previous boss.
TARIFFS: Lack of transparency in the U.S. Commerce Department’s handling of steel and aluminium tariffs raised the appearance that certain companies may have had “improper influence” in the process, its internal watchdog said in a document.
PRICES: LME aluminium fell 0.3% in closing rings to $1,755 a tonne, zinc shed 1.8% to $2,482.50, lead dropped 2.2% to finish at $2,160 after hitting a two-week low of $2,155.
Nickel lost 0.8% to end at $16,645 while tin slipped 1.6% to $16,525 after touching a three-week low of $16,300. (Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by David Goodman/Mark Potter/Susan Fenton)