March 21, 2019 / 12:43 PM / 2 months ago

METALS-Copper slips from highest level in 8 months as dollar firms

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Adds closing prices)

By Zandi Shabalala

LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - Copper prices retreated from eight-month highs on Thursday as the U.S. dollar, which had fallen after dovish comments from the Federal Reserve, rebounded.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) closed 0.5 percent lower at $6,420.50 a tonne after touching a session high of $6,555.50, the highest since July.

The dollar reversed some earlier losses, prompting a sell-off in metals which are priced in the currency, an analyst said. On Wednesday the U.S. Federal Reserve abandoned its projections for further interest rates rises this year.

COPPER STOCKS: Headline stocks of copper in LME-approved warehouses fell 2,825 tonnes to 176,450 tonnes but are still up about 60 percent from a 2008 low touched a week ago. MCUSTX-TOTAL

Healthy stock levels elsewhere have supported the notion that the global copper market is not as tight as the LME market has suggested. CU-STX-SGH HG-STX-COMEX

TRADE TARIFFS: U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that the United States may leave tariffs on Chinese goods for a “substantial period” to ensure that Beijing complies with any trade agreement.

CHINA VISIT: A U.S. trade delegation will visit China on March 28-29 for the next round of negotiations, China’s commerce ministry said.

“There is a feeling of general optimism that (trade talks) will end up with the peaceful resolve,” Citi’s Oliver Nugent said.

“That is overhanging why copper is getting support through what has been a set of weak data points.”

DEFICIT: The market was in a 387,000 tonne deficit in 2018 compared with a 265,000 tonne deficit the year before, the International Copper Study Group said.

PHILIPPINES NICKEL: Philippine nickel producer DMCI Mining Corp, a unit of conglomerate DMCI Holdings, said it expected 2019 to be a tough year, with one of its two mines still suspended and its inventory almost depleted.

NICKEL BALANCE: The global nickel market deficit widened to 1,000 tonnes in January from a revised deficit of 100 tonnes in December, the International Nickel Study Group said.

ZINC: Zinc stocks touched a record low of 57,825 tonnes. But the premium for cash zinc over the three-month LME contract stood at $33.50, down from $55 last week. CMZN0-3

NORSK: Norsk Hydro, one of the world’s largest aluminium producers, said one of its key units was operating at only 50 percent of capacity following a cyber attack on the firm earlier this week.

PRICES: Aluminium eased 1.9 percent to $1,899.50 per tonne, zinc shed 1 percent to $2,835, lead was down 0.2 percent to $2,041, tin was ended unchanged at $21,375, while nickel was untraded in final rings and was bid down 1.7 percent to $12,970.

Reporting by Zandi Shabalala. Editing by Jane Merriman and Elaine Hardcastle

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