December 23, 2014 / 10:49 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-Copper steadies but worries over China demand persist

* Investors soother by steady oil prices, equities rally

* China stocks post biggest daily drop in two weeks

* Nickel falls as LME stocks hit another record level (Recasts, updates prices, adds quote/details)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Copper steadied on Tuesday, stemming the previous session’s fall as oil prices recovered, but gains were kept in check by persistent concerns over weak demand in top consumer China.

Brent crude oil steadied at around $60 a barrel, drawing investors into copper. A rise in European equities, which tracked a record rally on Wall Street on Monday, also boosted risk appetite.

But the view from China, which consumes some 45 percent of the world’s copper, remained uninspiring.

Chinese stocks posted the biggest daily drop in two weeks, while a central bank survey on Monday showed the number of Chinese bankers who believe the country’s economy is cooling increased in the fourth quarter.

“Scrap imports into China have continued to fall so it doesn’t appear Chinese demand has rebounded. Therefore, copper prices could remain depressed into the first quarter, a seasonally weak quarter for demand,” said Nomura analyst Patrick Jones.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange slipped 0.1 percent to $6,349 a tonne by 1032 GMT, following losses of 0.7 percent on Monday.

A massive sell-off sent the metal to its lowest level in 4-1/2 years earlier this month amid expectations of a looming supply surplus, a situation aggravated by slowing industrial growth in China.

But steadier oil prices coupled with a quietening in Russia’s currency crisis have at least helped settle the tone in the wider markets in the past few days.

A pre-Christmas rush of U.S. data due later, including third quarter GDP, may also underline the improvement in the world’s biggest economy.

Three-month nickel fell 1.1 percent to $15,480 a tonne, following losses of 6.4 percent last week.

LME data out earlier showed nickel stocks rose to a record level of 408,990 tonnes, cementing views that Indonesia’s ore ban had not tightened the market enough to justify a price uptrend.

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

Three month LME tin ($1 = 6.2217 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Additional reporting by James Regan in Sydney; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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