NEW YORK, Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. copper futures fell more than 2 percent and neared the $3.00 per lb level Wednesday morning, as mixed economic data and lingering concerns about tighter Chinese monetary policy continued to counter recovery optimism.
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* Benchmark copper for March delivery HGH0 dropped 7.15 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $3.0180 per lb by 10:46 a.m. EST (1546 GMT) on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s COMEX division.
* Range $3.0155 to $3.1440.
* COMEX estimated futures volume at 23,876 lots by 10 a.m.
* Copper weighed down by currency-related selling pressure after data showed smaller-than-forecast drop in U.S. private-sector employment in January. [ID:nWEN9595] [USD/]
* Directionless trade expected in advance of Friday’s all-important monthly payrolls data for January - brokers. [ID:nN01161986]
* Copper losses accelerated after data showed less-than-expected rate of growth in U.S. services sector. [ID:nN03361980]
* Negative-sideways trade expected in short-term amid uncertain global economic outlook and dollar/interest rate policy - Frank Lesh, broker and futures analyst with Future Path Trading in Chicago.
* Copper sentiment slammed by Chinese government clampdown on bank credit. [ID:nTOE61201R]
* London Metal Exchange copper warehouse stocks fell 675 tonnes to 540,475 tonnes on Wednesday. <0#LME-STOCKS>
* COMEX copper stocks gained 355 to 103,975 short tons as of Tuesday.
* India’s copper demand likely to grow by at least 7 percent in financial year 2010/11 on strong power infrastructure sector. [ID:nSGE6120DK]
* Chilean copper miner Antofagasta Plc (ANTO.L) 2009 copper production down 7.4 percent at 442,500 tonnes. [ID:nLDE6112DO]
* LME benchmark copper for three-month delivery MCU3 at $6,662 a tonne, down $158 from Tuesday close. (Reporting by Chris Kelly; Editing by Walter Bagley)