December 14, 2016 / 8:01 AM / 8 months ago

METALS-London copper steadies ahead of Fed decision

* New Caledonia nickel miners seek to step up China shipments

* Codelco sees copper prices avg at $2.40/lb in 2017

* Coming Up: Euro zone Industrial Output for Oct at 1000 GMT (Adds detail, updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, Dec 14 (Reuters) - London copper marked time on Wednesday, up from a near two-week low hit in the previous session, as the dollar eased and markets waited for Federal Reserve commentary that may cast fresh light over its outlook for U.S. interest rate rises next year.

Investors were waiting to see whether the Fed will signal any acceleration in the pace of future rate increases to deal with an expected ramp-up in fiscal spending under President-elect Donald Trump.

"Investors are likely to remain subdued as they await the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting," ANZ said in a note.

Base metals tend to attract investment as an inflation hedge because prices of real assets rise with inflation, and had rallied in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election win.

Metals have also been supported by encouraging signs of demand growth in China and as stocks are withdrawn from global exchange warehouses.

"Raw material markets remain well bid, while continued outflows from LME warehouses should see metal prices supported," ANZ said in the note.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was flat at $5,692 a tonne by 0749 GMT, from the previous session when prices fell 1.3 percent, having hit $5,655.50 a tonne, its weakest since Dec. 1. Volumes were meagre with less than 1,000 lots of turnover of the benchmark contract.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper cut early losses to finish down by 1 percent, at 46,490 yuan ($6,735) a tonne. Shfe aluminium was down 2.4 percent.

In upbeat demand signals from Asia, Chinese banks extended 794.6 billion yuan ($115.10 billion) in new yuan loans in November and look set to extend a record amount of credit this year as Beijing boosts the economy to meet growth targets despite worries about the risks of prolonged debt-fuelled stimulus.

In other news, New Caledonia's nickel ore miners have applied to increase shipments to China after an environmental crackdown on Philippine mine supply this year caused prices to spike, four sources familiar with the matter said this week.

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 = 6.9048 Chinese yuan Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Biju Dwarakanath

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