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By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - Copper fell on Friday, ending the week 2 percent lower after workers agreed to end a strike at the world’s top copper mine in Chile.
The price of copper in London dipped briefly on Thursday on news that the strike at BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine had ended. It stabilised but resumed its decline later in the Friday session.
The strike had lasted 43 days.
“It had led to rising prices ahead of the strike and now I would expect the price to give away some of its gains,” said Carsten Menke, a commodity analyst at Julius Baer.
Investors this week were also jittery about the possibility President Donald Trump’s healthcare bill might not pass, suggesting he may struggle to muster the backing needed to push through fiscal measures central to the U.S. government’s economic agenda.
“The market is beginning to price out the probability that we could get this big infrastructure spend from Trump,” said Jens Pedersen, commodities analyst at Danske Bank.
“If he had such a difficult time getting this through, how will it go when things turn to the budget, infrastructure spending and tax.”
Commodity markets have soared since November on expectations Trump will increase spending on infrastructure.
* COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper slipped 0.4 percent to $5,804 a tonne, ending the week 2 percent lower.
* STOCKS: Copper stocks in LME approved warehouses have shot up 63 percent since March 2 to 312,525 tonnes while on warrant inventories have doubled.
* TECHNICALS: Copper faces resistance at its 200-day moving average on the weekly chart at $5,959 a tonne.
* ESCONDIDA: The strike at Chile’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, is ending after workers decided to invoke a rarely used legal provision that allows them to extend their old contract.
* PHILIPPINES NICKEL: The Philippines’ environment agency has allowed eight suspended nickel ore miners to ship out stockpiles of mined ore, sources told Reuters, temporarily boosting supply from the world’s top exporter of the raw metal after a major mining crackdown.
* CHINA IMPORTS: China’s refined metals imports were sharply lower in February, by 29 pct on the year for copper to 66 pct down for zinc, also spooking the market over the strength of demand.
* ZINC STRIKE: Noranda Income Fund said on Thursday zinc output at its Quebec plant, the second-largest in North America, was at 50-60 percent of normal operating levels as a five-and-a-half week long strike dragged on.
* FREEPORT: Freeport-McMoRan Inc said Thursday that a nearly two-week strike has not materially impacted production levels at its Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru, the country’s biggest, although the union said output has been cut in half.
* PRICES: Aluminium gained 0.3 percent to $1,939 a tonne; zinc rose 0.6 percent to $2,831; lead ceded 0.6 percent to $2,352; nickel fell 1.6 percent to $9,870; tin lost 2.1 percent to $19,850.
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
Reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Mark Potter/Ruth Pitchford