September 15, 2017 / 1:51 AM / 2 months ago

METALS-London copper stems losses as funds step in

SYDNEY, Sept 15 (Reuters) - London copper firmed early on Friday, rebounding from overnight losses, as investment funds followed a flight into risk-averse investments like metals after North Korea ratcheted up geopolitical tensions with the firing of a missile over Japan.

“We saw some immediate fund interest in copper, which is propping up the price,” a commodities trader in Perth said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Copper had dropped to a four-week low on Thursday after some weaker-than-expected data from China pointed to slowing demand from the metal’s top consumer.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.1 percent to $6,510.25 a tonne by 0100 GMT.

* The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was 0.45 percent lower at 50,350 yuan ($7,684.68)a tonne.

* Copper has surged 28 percent from its May low to its 2017 peak of $6,970, hit on Sept. 5, on expectations of strong demand from China. * NORTH KOREA: North Korea fired a missile on Friday that flew over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean and Japanese officials said, adding to tensions after Pyongyang’s recent powerful nuclear test.

* CHINA DATA: Data released on Thursday showed slower-than-expected growth in investment, factory output and retail sales but a rebound in property sales and construction starts is likely to keep China’s overall growth relatively robust and on target.

* COPPER STOCKS: On-warrant LME inventories - those not earmarked for delivery - rose 26,000 tonnes to 186,125 tonnes and are up 67 percent from a September low touched last week. MCUSTX-TOTAL

* FRAUD PROBE: U.S. prosecutors have charged a former senior precious metals trader at UBS Group AG with fraud and conspiracy over his alleged role in rigging prices.

* ALUMINIUM: Some Japanese aluminium buyers have agreed to pay a global producer a premium of $95 per tonne for shipments in the fourth quarter, reflecting lower spot premiums, two sources involved in the pricing talks said on Thursday.

* SHFE LEAD: ShFE lead rose by a further 1 percent to a fresh 3-1/2-week high after clocking up a 2 percent gain on Thursday and 3 percent on Wednesday. The contract is more than 25 percent since the lowest close of 2017 on May 19.

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MARKETS NEWS

* U.S. stock futures dipped and the yen rose after North Korea fired another missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, in a sign that Pyongyang remains defiant despite tightening international sanctions.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT) 0900 Euro zone Eurostat trade Jul 0900 Euro zone Labour costs Q2 1230 U.S. New York Fed manufacturing Sep 1230 U.S. Retail sales Aug 1315 U.S. Industrial output Aug 1400 U.S. Business inventories Jul 1400 U.S. University of Michigan sentiment index Sep European Union finance ministers and central bank governors meet

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

ARBS ($1 = 6.5520 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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