December 24, 2014 / 10:44 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-Copper steadies after bright U.S. growth data; dollar, oil eyed

* U.S. grew at quickest pace in 3 years in the third quarter

* Stronger dollar, weaker oil a turn off for some investors (Recasts, updates prices, adds quote/details, changes dateline)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Copper steadied on Wednesday in thin pre-Christmas trade as a brightening U.S. economic picture was balanced by caution over the strong dollar, weak oil prices and dimming demand prospects in top consumer China.

The U.S. economy grew at a 5.0 percent clip in the third quarter, its quickest pace in 11 years and the strongest sign yet that growth has decisively shifted into higher gear.

But the news boosted the dollar, which held near its highest point in almost nine years against a currency basket on Wednesday, making dollar priced metals costlier for European and other non-U.S. investors.

The strong dollar also weighed on oil, tempting investors to sell commodity basket holdings, while concerns over growth in China persisted as Chinese equities closed down 2 percent, bucking broad gains in Asian stocks overnight.

“Falling oil prices have pulled copper down because its part of a commodity basket, but once that’s over, lower oil should boost copper demand, its like a giant economic stimulus programme,” said Herwig Schmidt, head of sales at brokerage Triland.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged up 0.13 percent to $6,338.25 a tonne by 1000 GMT, bringing year to date falls near 14 percent.

Copper hit its lowest in 4-1/2 years earlier this month as oil prices crashed and concerns persisted that a supply surplus will hit the market next year just as Chinese economic growth shifts down a gear.

Copper prices are forecast by Australia’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics to average $6,580 in 2015, 5 percent lower than 2014, owing to greater supply availability and the impact of a stronger U.S. dollar.

For 2014, BREE estimates copper averaged around $6,940 a tonne, 6.3 percent below the average price for 2013.

In other metals, tin fell 0.27 percent to $18,345 a tonne, its lowest point since August 2012, as investors took the view that gains prompted by declining exports from Indonesia were overdone for now.

Indonesia, the world’s top tin exporter, sold 65,607 tonnes between of tin on global markets between January and November this year, compared with about 90,000 tonnes for the whole of last year.

PRICES

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 = 6.2263 Chinese yuan renminbi Additional reporting James Regan, editing by Louise Heavens

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