October 14, 2019 / 10:22 AM / a month ago

METALS-Copper drops as China trade data reinforces negative mood

* Weak demand weighs on copper tmsnrt.rs/2LT2gIL

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates prices)

By Pratima Desai

LONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Monday as trade data from top consumer China reinforced concerns about demand for industrial metals while signs of progress on U.S.-China trade talks elicited a cautious response.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was untraded in official rings but bid down 0.8% at $5,750 a tonne. Prices of the metal used as a gauge of economic health are down more than 10% since the 2019 high above $6,600 a tonne.

“Chinese trade data shows demand domestically and globally is weak and though it looks as if we are are moving in the right direction on the trade talks, there was nothing specific for metals,” said BMO Capital markets analyst Kash Kamal.

“However, preliminary numbers showed rising imports of copper concentrates ... domestic demand in pockets is improving because of the stimulus that has been injected into the Chinese economy through the year.”

TALKS: U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday outlined the first phase of a deal to end the trade war with China and suspended threatened increases to tariffs, but officials on both sides said much more work needs to be done before an accord can be agreed.

TRADE: A slide in China’s exports gathered pace in September while imports contracted for a fifth straight month, pointing to further weakness.

AUTOS: Highlighting the weakness in Chinese growth and demand were September auto sales that fell 5.2% year on year, representing a 15th consecutive month of declines.

DATA: Chinese data on loans, investment and industrial production this week will be closely watched by metals markets for clues on demand prospects.

TECHNICALS: Copper prices are expected to struggle to break above the 100-day moving average of $5,835, while support is at $5,760, where the 50-day moving average currently sits.

PERU: Support for copper came from news that Chinese miner MMG might halt production at its Las Bambas mine in Peru because protesters are blocking access to the site.

Also on the radar is the prospect of a strike from next Wednesday at small Chilean copper mine Antucoya, owned by Antofagasta Minerals, after contract negotiations broke down.

SPREAD: The premium for cash nickel over the three-month contract closed at an elevated $187 a tonne CMNI0-3 on Friday, close to the $214 hit on Oct. 1, its highest since April 2009.

The rise is because of falling stocks of the stainless steel ingredient in LME-registered warehouses, which have dropped below 100,000 tonnes to their lowest in more than seven years.

Three-month nickel was down 1.9% at $17,220 a tonne.

PRICES: Aluminium was down 0.4% at $1,715, zinc fell 0.4% to $2,409, lead slid 2.3% to $2,132 and tin gained 0.2% to $16,550. (Reporting by Pratima Desai Editing by David Goodman)

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