* Nickel Asia sees limited financial impact from audit
* China copper imports up 19.7 pct in June, exports up 192.4 pct
* ANZ sees nickel prices nearing $12,000 on Philippine supply risk (Adds comment, detail, updates prices)
By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE, July 21 (Reuters) - London copper rose towards $5000 a tonne on Thursday, finding some support as the dollar eased from a four-month high, and after China’s copper imports remained solid in June.
The dollar eased back from a four-month high against the euro ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting later in the day.
Price gains across metals this year, ranging from a 6-percent rise in copper to a 40-percent surge in zinc, have been bolstered by a recovery in oil prices and a shallower rate rise path in the United States following the Brexit, said analyst Lachlan Shaw of UBS in Melbourne. However, gains may prove short-lived, he added.
“We can see this holding up the prices. But as for the demand outlook, we think it will sequentially weaken in the second half.”
Oil prices, up by nearly a quarter this year, have lifted production and transport costs for miners, while a softer dollar raises the purchasing power for buyers of commodities paying with other currencies...
London Metal Exchange copper climbed by 0.7 percent to $4,999 a tonne by 0735 GMT, having hit the highest since July 15. Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose by half a percent to 38,650 yuan ($5,791) a tonne.
China’s refined copper imports for June rose by 19.7 percent on the year to 305,304 tonnes, while refined copper exports also jumped by 192.4 percent to 42,596 tonnes, customs data showed.
The ECB is expected to hold policy steady while perhaps addressing a scarcity of bonds for its 1.7 trillion euro stimulus programme.
Underpinning gains in zinc, the global zinc market deficit surged to 68,700 tonnes in May from a revised 5,000 tonne shortfall in April.
LME zinc prices have taken off after the closure of several giant mines since late last year, up 1.2 percent on Thursday to hit a new 14-month high at $2,272.50 a tonne.
LME nickel prices rallied 1.3 percent at $10,730 a tonne, hitting the highest since October.
While the likelihood of the Philippine nickel industry being completely shut down is low, the amount and importance of supply source at risk warrants a substantial premium, said ANZ in a note. It expects nickel prices to push towards $12,000.
The Philippine mining minister said on Wednesday she has asked Nickel Asia Corp to stop shipping nickel ore to China, citing environmental concerns at the company’s mine on an island along the country’s eastern central edge.
But Nickel Asia on Thursday that it expected any impact to be limited as the request did not applied to transport of stockpiled ore rather than to its mining operations.
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 = 6.6742 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Ed Davies and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)