* LME copper finds modest support
* Follows 3 pct fall overnight
* China demand doubts counter supply pinch in Chile,
By James Regan
SYDNEY, Feb 24 London copper prices found modest
support on Friday after a big fall overnight amid fresh doubts
over Chinese demand and some upward movement in the U.S. dollar,
but were still on track for a weekly decline of around 2 percent
Traders said worries persist about consumption levels in
China after the country's housing minister on Thursday suggested
moves were afoot to stabilise the property market.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was
up 0.8 percent at $5,907 a tonne by 0700 GMT after falling 3
percent in the previous session.
"Copper is below $6,000 (a tonne) again, but the drop may be
seen as a little overdone, explaining the uptick today," said a
commodities trader in Sydney who did not want to be named. "But
I don't see all the losses being erased."
Strike action at the Escondida copper mine in Chile,
accounting for about 6 percent of world supply, was offering
support, although the strike "at least in the short term" was
largely factored into the market, the trader added.
Operator BHP Billiton's decision this week
to delay its legal right to replace striking workers is seen a
move aimed at sacrificing some output to undermine the union's
BHP made a surprise announcement on Tuesday, saying it would
not seek to exercise its right to replace the 2,500 striking
workers after 15 days - which would have been Friday. Instead,
it said it would wait at least 30 days.
A halt to the big Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia by
Freeport McMoRan was also giving copper bulls solace.
The row, which centres around the sanctity of Freeport's
30-year mining contract, comes as Indonesia seeks to squeeze
more revenue out of its mining industry through a shake-up of
regulations over foreign ownership and ore processing.
"Given their size, lengthy disruptions at either will eat
into this year's normal 5 percent disruption allowance," GFMS, a
Thomson Reuters company providing independent specialist metals
market content and analysis, said in a recent report.
"But unless accompanied by other major disruptions they are
still unlikely to prevent another year of surplus in the refined
The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures
Exchange was down 1.67 percent at 47,760 yuan ($6,950)a
tonne. The contract dipped by as much as 2.9 percent at the
Lead and zinc were each up about 1 percent
after closing lower overnight.
Zinc prices are still nearly double the levels seen in
January 2016 due to deficits arising from mine closures and
In Shanghai, aluminium was off 1.65 percent and
zinc down 1.2 percent.
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 = 6.8716 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin and Biju