* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates with closing prices)
By Eric Onstad
LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Aluminium prices hit their lowest in about a month on Thursday on fears of weak consumption after the world’s biggest steelmaker cut its global demand forecast and Chinese data showed shrinking factory activity.
Top steelmaker ArcelorMittal cut its estimate for global steel demand growth to between 0.5% and 1.5% in 2019 from a previous forecast of 1%-1.5%.
“People are getting a bit nervous about the demand side and seasonally this is also weak period for global industrial demand,” said Colin Hamilton, director of commodities research at BMO Capital.
“On the whole, I still have most of these base metals markets in deficit this year, but deficits don’t matter without better demand,” Hamilton said.
Benchmark aluminium on the London Metal Exchange dropped for a third session and slipped 1.1% in final open-outcry trading to $1,780 a tonne, its weakest since July 3.
Three-month LME copper touched its lowest since July 10 at $5,876 a tonne before paring losses to $5,899, a decline of 0.5%.
* FED: Also weighing on markets were comments by the head of the U.S. central bank that an interest rate cut might not be the start of a lengthy campaign to shore up the economy against risks.
* DOLLAR: The U.S. Federal Reserve comments helped to propel the dollar index to a 26-month peak, making commodities priced in the U.S. currency more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
* TRADE TALKS: U.S.-Chinese trade talks in Shanghai ended without any meaningful progress, “highlighting the reality that a deal is far from being reached”, ANZ said in a note.
* CHINA PMI: Pressure on factories in top metals consumer China eased a little in July thanks to growth-boosting steps from the government, but overall manufacturing activity remained in contraction as the trade war with the United States dented export orders, a private survey showed.
“Despite the small upturn in the July PMIs, China’s economy looks set to slow further in the coming months,” Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.
* COPPER TIME SPREADS: The discount of LME cash copper to the three-month contract CMCU0-3 rose to $24.75 a tonne by Wednesday’s close, the deepest discount since June 17, indicating healthy near-term supply. The discount was $6.25 three weeks ago.
* PRICES: LME zinc slid 1.7% to close at $2,403 a tonne after touching $2,380, its lowest since July 10.
Lead shed 1% in closing rings to $1,990 after hitting a two-week low of $1,978, while nickel gained 0.8% to $14,595 and tin added 0.2% to $17,325 after hitting a three-year low of $17,200. (Additional reporting by Tom Daly in Beijing Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair)