March 9, 2017 / 1:56 AM / 5 months ago

METALS-London copper sinks to 7-week low on dollar, Escondida talks

MELBOURNE, March 9 (Reuters) - London copper fell on Thursday after solid U.S. jobs data increased the likelihood of an interest rate hike this month and on signs that disruption at the world's biggest copper mine may soon ease.

FUNDAMENTALS

* London Metal Exchange copper slipped to $5,719 a tonne by 0030 GMT, after ending a tad lower in the previous session. It earlier in the session touched its weakest at $5710 since Jan. 20.

* Shanghai Futures Exchange copper receded 1.3 percent to 46,620 yuan ($6,747) a tonne.

* LME nickel slid 1.5 percent, while ShFE nickel tumbled more than 6 percent on the possibility that the Philippines' hardline environmental minister may not be confirmed by Congress, opening the door to a new minister that may be more permissive to the mining sector after Lopez shut scores of mines for environmental degradation.

* U.S. private sector job growth recorded its biggest increase in more than a year in February amid a surge in construction and factory hiring, suggesting the economy remains on solid ground despite an apparent further slowdown in the first quarter.

* German industrial output rose more than expected in January, driven by strong demand for machinery, cars and other capital goods, suggesting Europe's biggest economy started into 2017 on a solid footing despite the threat of rising protectionism.

* China unexpectedly posted its first trade gap in three years in February as a construction boom pushed imports much higher than expected and as increasing U.S. protectionist rhetoric casts a spotlight on the export giant's trade position.

The upbeat import reading reinforced the growing view that economic activity in China picked up in the first two months of the year, adding to a global manufacturing revival.

* BHP Billiton, may try to restart production at the world's No.1 copper mine Escondida in Chile using temporary workers once the strike surpasses 30 days, the company told a local radio station on Wednesday.

* Spot processing fees in Asia for copper concentrate have slid to their cheapest in four years as shutdowns at the world's top two mines in Chile and Indonesia grind on longer than anticipated, and it is likely they will drop further in the coming month.

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MARKETS NEWS

* The dollar stood firm in Asia on Thursday and bond yields spiked after super-strong U.S. jobs data made a rate hike a near certainty, while oil nursed bruising losses as U.S. stockpiles swelled past all expectations.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT)

0130 China Consumer prices Feb

0130 China Producer prices Feb

1245 European Central Bank interest rate announcement

1330 European Central Bank press conference

1330 U.S. Import prices Feb

1330 U.S. Export prices Feb

1330 U.S. Weekly jobless claims

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

$1 = 6.9101 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Vyas Mohan

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