* China's Sept copper imports 340,000 T, lowest since Feb
* Zinc hits lowest in four weeks, copper at one-month low
(Updates with closing prices)
By Clara Denina
LONDON, Oct 13 Copper prices slipped almost
three percent earlier on Thursday, after China's September trade
data showed a sharp decline in imports, raising new concerns
about demand in the world's biggest user of metals.
China's imports of copper last month fell by 26.1 percent
compared with September 2015 and, at 340,000 tonnes, were also
lower by 10,000 tonnes from August. Its concentrate imports
declined last month by 4.1 percent to 1.39 million tonnes.
China's September exports fell 10 percent from a year
earlier, far more than expected, while imports unexpectedly
shrank after picking up in August, deepening concerns over the
latest depreciation in China's yuan currency.
"China's September data for copper is pretty poor and fits
in with the idea that although demand in China is not that bad,
the country does seem to be going through a de-stocking phase,"
Oxford Economics commodity director Dan Smith said, adding
strong production is not supportive of higher prices in the
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
closed down 2.1 percent at $4,712 a tonne, having earlier
fallen to a one-month low of $4,687. At that point, prices had
retreated around 4 percent from a two-month high of $4,889
touched at the end of September.
"In copper, we expect the main catalyst for the downside
(for the next 3-6 months) will be accelerating oversupply, but
we are also conscious that we are entering a weak seasonal
period for demand during which ... inventories tend to build and
prices often come under pressure," Goldman Sachs said in a note.
China's refined metal production jumped by 12.4 percent in
August and is up by 8.7 percent this year at 5.498 million
Metals prices came also under the pressure after the dollar
hit a seven-month high against a basket of six main currencies.
U.S. data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing
for unemployment benefits held at a 43-year low last week.
The Fed on Wednesday released the minutes of its last
rate-setting meeting, which showed several policymakers felt a
rate hike was warranted "relatively soon" if the U.S. economy
continued to strengthen.
"There will be a U.S. rate hike before the end of the year
and that implies further dollar strength, so overall a lot of
these markets are going to go lower," Oxford Economics' Smith
Three-month zinc fell to its lowest in almost four
weeks at $2,210 a tonne, before closing down 1.1 percent at
$2,241. Lead fell 1.4 percent to close at $1,995.50 a
tonne and nickel closed down 1.3 percent at $10,430. Tin
, which did not trade at close, was bid at $19,475, down
Aluminium bucked the downward trend, closing up 0.5
percent at $1,692, after touching $1,693.50, its highest since
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 = 6.6685 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing
by Ruth Pitchford and Mark Potter)