(Updates prices, adds details)
By Mai Nguyen
Feb 13 (Reuters) - London copper prices fell on Thursday amid concerns about weakening demand from top consumer China, following a surge in the number of deaths and infections from the coronavirus epidemic.
The death toll in China’s Hubei province from the outbreak leapt by a record 242 on Thursday to 1,310 with a sharp rise in confirmed cases after the adoption of new methodology for diagnosis, health officials said.
The province reported 14,840 new cases, dwarfing the 2,015 new confirmed cases reported in mainland China the previous day.
“Slower than expected economic growth in China is disruptive for metals and mining as China is a large consumer of many of these commodities and an important end market for automakers and other manufacturers that use metals in the production process,” Fitch Ratings said in a report.
“But the scale of the impact remains uncertain and will depend on the duration and intensity of the crisis and any government stimulus to offset effects of the epidemic,” the report said.
* PRICES: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.4% to $5,740.50 a tonne by 0721 GMT, aluminium slid 0.4% to $1,729.50 a tonne, nickel rose 0.7% to $13,195 a tonne, zinc firmed 0.7% to $2,162.50 a tonne, while lead eased 0.1% to $1,853 a tonne.
* SHANGHAI PRICES: The most active copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.2% to 45,710 yuan ($6,546.65) a tonne, aluminium declined 0.4% to 13,705 yuan a tonne, nickel advanced 0.4% to 105,630 yuan a tonne.
* LEAD/ZINC: Henan Yuguang Gold and Lead, one of China’s biggest lead and zinc producers, has cut zinc output by 50% amid the outbreak, a company executive said.
* RIO COPPER: Rio Tinto , operator of the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia, said its copper concentrate shipments to China had slowed due to efforts by the authorities to contain the spread of the virus.
* GRIFFIN MINING: Griffin Mining said it was returning essential staff to its Caijiaying mine in China to restart operations after the country lifted decrees restricting all non-essential businesses due to the outbreak.
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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
ARBS ($1 = 6.9822 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Amy Caren Daniel)