December 5, 2018 / 11:31 AM / 10 days ago

METALS-Copper drifts to 1-week low as U.S.-China tensions rekindled

(Updates with closing prices)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Copper fell to its lowest level in a week on Wednesday after comments by U.S. President Donald Trump stoked more worries about trade tensions with top metals consumer China.

Most other industrial metals were in the red due to concern about growth in China and after the country’s currency slipped.

Markets were unconvinced when China expressed confidence on Wednesday that it could reach a trade deal with the United States, after Trump renewed warnings he would revert to more tariffs if the two sides cannot resolve their differences.

“We’re seeing a bit of red, mainly to do with Trump’s comments about liking tariffs, plus the renminbi weakened after having strengthened during the past several days, that basically did the damage,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.

“Copper touched the upper end of its range but failed to break above yesterday and then the tariff talk sent it lower.”

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed down 0.6 percent at $6,174 a tonne, after touching $6,142, the lowest since Nov. 28.

* ZINC: LME benchmark zinc rose 1.2 percent to end at $2,619 a tonne, underpinned by shortages in the refined sector that have whittled down inventories.

“The speculative short in zinc is one of the smaller shorts of the complex at 4.4 percent of open interest,” Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.

* ZINC STOCKS/SPREADS: LME zinc inventories MZNSTX-TOTAL fell further to 110,700 tonnes, down more than half since mid-August to the lowest since January 2008.

The premium of cash zinc over the three-month contract CMZN0-3 hit another record high of $122 a tonne, indicating severe shortages of nearby material.

* STEEL: China’s construction steel rebar jumped more than 4 percent, providing support to steel-linked metals zinc and nickel. LME nickel added 0.8 percent to finish at $11,225 a tonne.

* BHP/NICKEL: BHP received approval from the local Australian government to develop the Venus nickel mine that will feed its Nickel West battery chemicals business.

* U.S. DOLLAR: The greenback edged up, putting further pressure on metals as commodities priced in dollars became more expensive for holders of other currencies.

* ALUMINIUM TECHNICALS: Aluminium slipped 0.3 percent to close at $1,969 a tonne. However, it recently broke above a descending channel, which opens up a move towards $2,007, Stéphanie Aymes, head of technical analysis at Societe Generale, said in a note.

“This must be reclaimed for denoting signs of a larger rebound towards $2,060.”

* PRICES: Lead shed 1.2 percent to finish at $1,983 and tin was barely changed, up 0.03 percent at $19,180.

Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Mark Potter and Kirsten Donovan

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