December 19, 2018 / 1:32 PM / a month ago

METALS-Copper rebounds on hopes a Fed rate pause will lift demand

(Updates with closing prices)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Copper rebounded cautiously on Wednesday from three-month lows hit in the previous session on hopes the U.S. central bank would slow the pace of interest rate rises, supporting metals demand.

The dollar weakened on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will signal later on Wednesday it will cut the number of hikes it anticipates next year.

“The bounce today is dollar-related and also due to increased speculation that the Fed will pause, potentially helping support emerging market countries that have been suffering from the stronger dollar and rising interest rates,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

The bulk of metals demand comes from emerging market nations such as China, while a weaker dollar makes commodities priced in the greenback cheaper for buyers using other currencies.

“Also, China’s economic conference has started, and the market is still speculating that it will come up with some additional measures to stabilise growth which has been under pressure recently,” Hansen added.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.8 percent in closing open outcry trading to $6,015 a tonne, paring some of the 2.5 percent losses it posted on Tuesday when it hit a three-month low.

* ALUMINIUM STOCKS: LME on-warrant aluminium inventories, those stocks not earmarked for delivery, rose by a further 35,125 tonnes to 1,052,900 tonnes, daily data showed MALSTX-TOTAL, bringing gains since the start of October to 73 percent.

* CHINA PRODUCERS: Representatives from China’s biggest aluminium producers will hold a meeting in the southern region of Guangxi to discuss slumping demand and falling prices, three sources familiar with the matter said.

At a previous such meeting in December 2015, Chinese aluminium smelters agreed to cut 500,000 tonnes of capacity.

LME benchmark aluminium rose 0.1 percent to end at $1,927 a tonne.

* COPPER SPREADS: The discount of LME cash copper to the three-month contract CMCU0-3 stood at $24.65 a tonne on Wednesday, after hitting $27.50 on Monday, the widest discount since August, in a sign of weaker short-term demand.

This compares to a premium of $44 in late November.

* COLUMN: Hedge funds give up on indecisive “Doctor” copper: Andy Home.

* PRICES: Zinc gained 0.8 percent to finish at $2,540 a tonne, lead dropped 0.4 percent to $1,965, nickel climbed 1.1 percent to $10,950 and tin rose 0.3 percent to $19,270.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or

Additional reporting and graphic by Tom Daly in Beijing; Editing by David Evans and Jan Harvey

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