February 27, 2017 / 5:46 AM / 6 months ago

METALS-Copper firms on supply outages ahead of Trump speech

* Escondida strike and Grasberg stoppage underpin copper

* Markets await Trump speech to Congress on Tuesday

* GRAPHIC-2017 metal returns: tmsnrt.rs/2eqHKkL (Updates with closing prices)

By Jan Harvey

LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Copper edged higher on Monday as production stoppages at the world's two biggest mines lent support, though moves were muted as markets awaited further clues on U.S. infrastructure spending from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The metal hit its highest since May 2015 on Feb. 13 on news of a strike at BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine in Chile and a contractual dispute that halted operations at Freeport-McMoran's Grasberg plant in Indonesia.

Those supply outages have continued to support copper within $100 of this month's peak.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed 0.1 percent up at $5,934.50 a tonne.

"On the fundamental side for copper, we have the strikes, (and) we've seen data recently supporting the notion that there is still some good upside for the global manufacturing cycle," Danske Bank analyst Jens Pedersen said. "Then we have this Donald Trump speech tomorrow in front of Congress.

"A lot of the price increase we've seen since November last year has been on the prospect of significant spending on public infrastructure in the U.S., and so far, there haven't been any real concrete plans on this. The market is likely looking for any hints (on that) tomorrow."

Trump told state governors at the White House that he would talk about his plans for infrastructure spending in a speech to Congress on Tuesday. "We're going to start spending on infrastructure big," he said.

On-warrant copper stocks - material not tagged for shipment from LME warehouses and thus available to investors - fell 29,725 tonnes on Friday to their lowest since May 2014, exchange data showed.

BHP Billiton has decided to give up its legal right to replace striking workers at the Escondida mine in a move analysts said was aimed at sacrificing some output to undermine the union's position.

"We only need 1.1 million tonnes of unexpected disruptions this year for a small deficit (in copper)," Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note on Monday.

Hedge funds and money managers cut their net long position in copper futures and options to its lowest in more than a month, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed.

Aluminium closed 0.8 percent up at $1,900 a tonne, while zinc slipped by 0.8 percent to $2,806 and lead lost 0.3 percent to finish at $2,254.

Tin closed with a 1 percent decline at $18,995 and nickel gained 1.7 percent to finish at $11,045.

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

Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Ruth Pitchford and David Goodman

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