June 10, 2010 / 10:24 AM / 10 years ago

METALS-Copper steady; mixed Chinese data weighs

 * Copper firms as European shares turn positive, euro up
 * China copper imports down, but analysts say still solid
 * Coming Up; ECB interest rate decision due at 1145 GMT
 
 (Recasts, updates prices and comments, changes dateline from
SINGAPORE)
  By Humeyra Pamuk
 LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) - Copper steadied on Thursday
supported by a stronger euro and equity markets while a drop in
copper imports from China, the world's top consumer, capped
further gains.
 China's copper imports at around 397,000 tonnes came in
slightly below forecasts, but analysts had expected a drop from
April's 436,345 tonnes as measures to cool growth rates and slow
property speculation took hold. [ID:nTOE657073]
 Copper CMCU3 for three months delivery on the London Metal
Exchange was at $6,343 a tonne by 0941 GMT, versus $6,340 a
tonne on Wednesday and after falling to a low of $6,222 a tonne,
triggered by a fall in Wall Street overnight.
 "I think some people have interpreted the copper data as
bearish," said analyst David Thurtell at Citi. "But I think
they're not bad. Copper imports close to 400,000 tonnes in any
month is still pretty solid result," he said.
 But some analysts did not agree completely.
 "After the sharp bounce in risk assets following yesterday's
leaked Chinese trade data for May, the actual numbers today
ironically proved a little disappointing," said analyst Andrey
Kryuchenkov at VTB Capital.
 Chinese trade data leaked on Wednesday gave a boost to
industrial metals as stronger Chinese exports data spurred
optimism for the global recovery. [ID:nTOE65805R]
 
 For a graphic showing China's copper imports, click:
 here
 
 "It is still a healthy number and is reflective of the still
strong underlying demand if you consider there's destocking
going on in China," said analyst Gayle Berry at Barclays
Capital.
 
 RATE DECISIONS
 Chinese demand was the major reason why copper prices more
than doubled last year. The metal, used mainly in construction
and wiring, has given up its gains after hitting a 20-month high
above $8,000 a tonne in mid-April as China slowdown fears and
worries eurozone economy weighed.
 On Thursday, risk appetite across global markets looked
improving with euro EUR= rising after the head of China's
national pension fund said the currency would weather Europe's
debt crisis and European shares turned positive. [FRX/] [.EU]
 But the market did not make big bets ahead of interest rate
decisions from Bank of England (BoE) and European Central Bank
(ECB) due at 1100 GMT and 1145 GMT respectively, which could
give clues about the policy direction in battling with
eurozone's mounting debt problems.
 "It'll be very interesting to hear what ECB would say,"
Thurtell said.
 On the fundamentals front, which analysts say is largely
ignored by the market for the moment, inventories for copper at
LME registered warehouses dropped by 1,775 tonnes and 7,575
tonnes for aluminium.
 Battery material lead CMPB3 was at $1,674,75 a tonne
versus Wednesday's $1,680 a tonne while tin CMSN3 was at
$16,500 a tonne from $16,300. Aluminium CMAL3 was at $1,941 a
tonne from $1,927 and nickel CMNI3 eased to $19,200 from
$19,270.
 LME zinc CMZN3 fell 1.2 percent to $1,736 after rising 1.8
percent in the previous session. Zinc, the weakest performer
amongst LME metals has lost one third of its value this year,
under pressure from high stocks and worries about longer term
surpluses.
 For an analysis on zinc market, click on: [ID:nLDE6530SH]
 Metal Prices at 0945 GMT
 Metal            Last      Change  Pct Move   End 2009   Ytd Pct
                                                          move
 COMEX Cu       285.95        0.95     +0.33     334.65    -14.55
 LME Alum      1940.00       13.00     +0.67    2230.00    -13.00
 LME Cu        6340.00        0.00     +0.00    7375.00    -14.03
 LME Lead      1670.00      -10.00     -0.60    2432.00    -31.33
 LME Nickel   19120.00     -150.00     -0.78   18525.00      3.21
 LME Tin      16475.00      545.00     +3.42   16950.00     -2.80
 LME Zinc      1727.00      -30.00     -1.71    2560.00    -32.54
 SHFE Alu     14405.00     -135.00     -0.93   17160.00    -16.05
 SHFE Cu*     50690.00      270.00     +0.54   59900.00    -15.38
 SHFE Zin     14120.00      -40.00     -0.28   21195.00    -33.38
** Benchmark month for COMEX copper
* 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN
SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07
 (Additional reporting by Nicholas Trevethan in Singapore,
Editing by Alison Birrane)

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