METALS-Copper steady, China data boosts stimulus hopes
(Updates prices; adds fresh quote)
* China July industrial output growth at three-year low
* China CPI at 30-month low offers room for more easing
* U.S. job, trade data beat expectations
By Susan Thomas and Silvia Antonioli
LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Copper was little changed on Thursday as a stronger dollar weighed on the metal while support came from strong U.S. job figures and prospects of monetary easing in top metals consumer China after subdued manufacturing and inflation data.
In July, annual growth in China's factory output slowed to the weakest level in more than three years, while annual consumer inflation fell to a 30-month low of 1.8 percent.
Some analysts said these figures were poor enough to trigger policy moves by Beijing.
"It's a story of data. The lower-than-expected inflation figures in China give authorities a little bit more room on interest rate," said Steve Hardcastle, head of metals trading at Sucden Financial.
"The U.S. jobs and trade data figures are supportive of stabilisation if not improvement in the growth pattern in the States so the general market sentiment is a little bit better."
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week while the trade deficit in June was the smallest in 1-1/2 years, hopeful signs for the struggling economy.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was $7,552.75 a tonne by 1502 GMT from $7,550 at the close on Wednesday. Volumes were slim as the summer holiday season in Europe gets underway.
European shares rose towards five-month highs despite evidence of weakening activity across the region, as investors drew strength from robust U.S. data releases and on the implications of the Chinese data.
The euro fell as the dollar rose against a basket of currencies. A stronger dollar makes commodities priced in the unit more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Tin was $18,100 per tonne from $18,200 at the close on Wednesday.
Refined tin shipments from Indonesia, the world's top exporter, fell 14 percent in July from the previous month, a trade ministry official said on Thursday, as windy weather and falling global prices limited supplies.
LME tin prices have fallen from record highs above $33,000 a tonne last year, with demand and the outlook hit by the global economic slowdown.
This week, Indonesia's PT Timah said it had stopped selling tin on the spot market because of the low prices, cutting shipments this month.
Indonesian smelters have a track record of disrupting supplies to boost prices, and analysts are sceptical that the new export curbs will support prices due to the overall economic and investor sentiment.
"In our opinion it is doubtful whether this will help to stabilize the tin price," Commerzbank said in a research note.
"After all, a self-imposed export ban in the fourth quarter of last year was undermined by a number of producers, and was ultimately lifted again without having had the desired effect."
Aluminium was $1,912.25 from $1,915 at the close on Wednesday.
"The light metal is holding above its 30-day moving average for the moment, but is faltering with the strength of the dollar," RBC said in a research note. "We would expect to see support at 1,900 and resistance at 1,950 and 2,000."
Aluminium's 30-day moving average is currently $1,901.32, according to Reuters data.
Three-month nickel was $15,560 from $15,740 and lead was $1,914.25 from $1,911 while zinc was at $1,860.75 from $1,869. Metal Prices at 1509 GMT Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T Metal Last Change Pct Move End 2011 Ytd Pct
move COMEX Cu 342.80 0.65 +0.19 344.75 -0.57 LME Alum 1914.00 -1.00 -0.05 2020.00 -5.25 LME Cu 7553.75 3.75 +0.05 7600.00 -0.61 LME Lead 1915.75 4.75 +0.25 2034.00 -5.81 LME Nickel 15550.00 -190.00 -1.21 18650.00 -16.62 LME Tin 18100.00 -100.00 -0.55 19200.00 -5.73 LME Zinc 1860.50 -9.00 -0.48 1845.00 0.84 SHFE Alu 15490.00 65.00 +0.42 15845.00 -2.24 SHFE Cu* 55270.00 420.00 +0.77 55360.00 -0.16 SHFE Zin 14755.00 80.00 +0.55 14795.00 -0.27 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07 (Editing by Anthony Barker)
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