* Focus shifts to conclusion of Fed meeting on Wednesday
* Nickel supported by prospect of full-scale mining ban
* China data reinforces idea of stronger demand
(Adds closing prices)
By Pratima Desai
LONDON, March 14 Copper prices climbed on
Tuesday as funds bought on growing expectations of stronger
demand from top consumer China, but a higher dollar ahead of
Wednesday's decision on U.S. interest rates by the Federal
Reserve capped gains.
The benchmark copper contract on the London Metal
Exchange ended up 0.4 percent at $5,820 a tonne, nearly 3
percent above the two-month low at $5,652 hit last week.
Traders said buying after the New York open helped copper to
reverse early losses.
China issued data on Tuesday showing the economy got off to
a strong start this year, supported by bank lending,
infrastructure spending and a much-needed resurgence in private
China accounts for just under half of global copper demand,
which is estimated at around 23 million tonnes this year.
"A lot will depend on what the Fed does, but the demand
signals from China are improving, the data was positive," Citi
analyst David Wilson said.
The Fed's two-day meeting is expected to conclude on
Wednesday with a rate rise, which could boost the U.S. currency,
making dollar-denominated metals more expensive for non-U.S.
firms and potentially weaken demand.
However, copper has been supported for some time by
disruptions to output in Chile and Peru due to strikes and in
Indonesia, where the government has halted exports of copper
concentrate from Freeport-McMoRan's Grasberg mine.
"Supply-side issues should continue to support metal prices;
however investors are likely to remain cautious leading into the
FOMC (Fed) meeting and other key economic releases," ANZ
analysts said in a note.
The three-month nickel price gained 0.7 percent to
$10,230 a tonne, underpinned by the prospects of a full-scale
mining ban in the Philippines, the world's top exporter of
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte accused some miners of
funding efforts to destabilise his government and he talked
about a possible plan to impose a ban on mining given the
environmental damage producers have caused.
Aluminium fell 1.2 percent to $1,860, zinc
rose 0.2 percent to $2,749.5, lead slid 2.2 percent to
$2,223.5 and tin gained 2.7 percent to $19,970.
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
(Editing by Ruth Pitchford and David Evans; Editing by Greg