* Duterte comments on full-scale mining ban underpin nickel
* Philippines defers decision to endorse Lopez to May
* Coming Up: Germany ZEW economic sentiment Mar at 1000 GMT
(Adds comment, detail, updates prices)
By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE, March 14 London copper was
underpinned on Tuesday by expectations of stronger demand for
the metal after China, the world's biggest copper user, reported
better-than-forecast industrial output data and fixed-asset
China issued a raft of upbeat data on Tuesday showing the
economy got off to a strong start to 2017, supported by strong
bank lending, a government infrastructure spree and a
much-needed resurgence in private investment.
China's factory output rose 6.3 percent in January and
February from the same period a year earlier, the country's
National Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday. Production
was estimated to grow 6.2 percent. Fixed-asset investment grew
8.9 percent, also beating expectations.
China accounts for just under half of global copper demand.
Improvement in manufacturing fed a brighter outlook for prices
as several disruptions at copper mines have constrained the
outlook for supply.
"Supply side issues should continue to support metal prices;
however investors are likely to remain cautious leading into the
FOMC meeting and other key economic releases," said ANZ in a
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was
flat at $5,798 a tonne by 0701 GMT, adding to the 1.1 percent
gain during the previous session. Copper last week fell to a
two-month low at $5,652 a tonne on signs that mine disruptions
may be abating.
Volumes were very low however with a turnover of less than
2,000 lots in the benchmark contract, suggesting caution ahead
of a meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve that is expected to
result in an interest rate rise on Wednesday.
Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose 0.7 percent
to 47,360 yuan ($6,844) a tonne.
A strike at Peru's biggest copper mine, Freeport-McMoRan
Inc's Cerro Verde, stretched into its fourth
day after a meeting between the union and management failed to
resolve a dispute over labour demands, a union official said on
Meanwhile, BHP Billiton on Monday invited
striking workers at its Escondida copper mine in Chile, the
world's largest, to return to the negotiating table, after they
rejected a similar approach on Saturday.
Escondida's 2,500-member union has been on strike since Feb.
9 after new contract talks fell apart, and the mine has produced
no copper since then.
Among other metals, LME nickel was also supported by
the possibility of a full-scale mining ban in the Philippines,
the world's top exporter of nickel ore. It edged down 0.5
percent to $10,115 a tonne.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday accused some
miners of funding efforts to destabilise his government as he
talked about a possible plan to impose a ban on mining given the
environmental damage producers have caused.
A Philippine congressional panel has deferred its decision
on whether to confirm or reject the appointment of Environment
Secretary Regina Lopez, the head of the panel said on Tuesday,
and will conduct more hearings in May.
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
Most active ShFE nickel
Three month LME tin
Most active ShFE tin
($1 = 6.9197 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger
and Sunil Nair)