By Tom Daly
BEIJING, June 18 (Reuters) - London copper prices were steady on Tuesday as investors eyed results from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate meeting, while concerns over a mine strike in top copper producer Chile offset weak U.S. economic data.
Lower interest rates tend to push commodity prices higher as they mean lower inventory financing costs, but analysts say the Fed is unlikely to cut rates this week.
Chile’s Codelco said its Chuquicamata mine, which produced 320,744 tonnes of copper in 2018, was maintaining output 50% of capacity after more than 3,000 unionised workers walked off the job on Friday morning.
Signs of a lingering strike “should see copper prices well supported, despite the market’s focus on the gloomy economic backdrop,” ANZ wrote in a note. “Supply shortages were exacerbated by data showing Chinese output fell,” it added.
China’s refined copper output dropped by 5.2% year-on-year and 3.9% month-on-month to 711,000 tonnes in May, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged up 0.1% at $5,853 a tonne, as of 0723 GMT, after ending 0.4% higher on Monday. The most-traded August copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended up 0.4% at 46,330 yuan ($6,687.74) a tonne.
* U.S.: The New York Federal Reserve said on Monday its gauge of business growth in New York state posted a record fall this month to its weakest level in more than 2-1/2 years, suggesting an abrupt contraction in regional activity.
* GLENCORE: Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines has shut down its Mufulira smelter for major refurbishment, the Glencore-owned company said on Monday.
* OTHER METALS: Aluminium rose 0.3%, nickel was almost flat, zinc fell 0.3%, lead gained 0.3% and tin eased 0.5%.
* NICKEL: Brazil’s Vale has suspended nickel activities in the country’s northern Para state after a court decision but said it will appeal.
* ALUMINIUM: Bosnia’s aluminium smelter Aluminij Mostar is seeking a strategic partner to avoid bankruptcy and a consortium led by London-listed miner and Glencore has shown interest, its general manager said.
* INDONESIA COPPER: Indonesian copper miner Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara said it expected to export about 236,000 tonnes of copper concentrate in 2019, below its export quota, as it increases supplies to a local smelter.
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($1 = 6.9276 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Sherry Jacob-Phillips