March 8, 2017 / 11:09 AM / 8 months ago

METALS-Copper slides to 1-month low, Chinese imports drop

    * LME copper stocks nearly double since Thursday
    * Chinese copper imports tumble in February
    * Mine disruptions in Chile, Indonesia lend support

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    By Pratima Desai
    LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - Copper prices slipped on
Wednesday to a one-month low on selling triggered by a higher
dollar, lower imports of the metal by top consumer China and
rising inventories.
    Benchmark copper         on the London Metal Exchange was
untraded at the close, but bid down 0.1 percent at $5,765 a
tonne from an earlier session low at $5,755.50.
    Growing expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike
rates next week have boosted the U.S. currency, which when it
rises makes dollar-denominated metals more expensive for holders
of other currencies, which could mean weaker demand.       
    "The Fed appears determined to raise rates next week," said 
   Quantitative Commodity Research analyst Peter Fertig. "But it
may still depend on data, particularly the non-farm payrolls."
    The U.S. monthly jobs report due on Friday includes non-farm
payrolls, which are expected to rise by 190,000 in February.
They come before the Fed meets on March 14-15.         
    Copper imports to China -- accounting for nearly half of
global consumption estimated at around 23 million tonnes this
year -- totalled 340,000 tonnes in February, down 10.5 percent
from January and down 19 percent from a year ago.             
    "China remains key and we project moderate demand growth
this year, mainly from the power sector," Julius Baer analyst
Carsten Menke said in a note. "
    Stocks of copper in LME approved warehouses at 288,525
tonnes have nearly doubled since last Thursday. Most of the
deliveries were to warehouses in Asia, which traders say suggest
the metal came from China.
    However, mine disruptions in Chile, Peru and Indonesia are
supporting prices.             
    One disruption is a strike at the Escondida copper mine, the
world's largest, in Chile.             
    "After 25 days (of strikes) we can expect lower production
already by some 95,000 to 100,000 tonnes, which naturally will
go on rising while the strike is prolonged," Chile's Mining
Minister Aurora Williams said.
    Aluminium         ended up 0.1 percent at $1,877, zinc
        gained 0.6 percent to $2,710, lead         added 0.8
percent to $2,251, tin         was flat at $19,375 and nickel
        slid 4.2 percent to $10,200.
    Traders said nickel's losses towards the end of the session
were due to funds cutting bets on higher prices.
    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 Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle)

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