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METALS-Copper ekes out gain ahead of holiday weekend
April 5, 2012 / 10:14 AM / 6 years ago

METALS-Copper ekes out gain ahead of holiday weekend

* Copper edges up as market digests Wednesday sell-off
    * U.S. jobless claims fall to lowest since 2008
    * LME copper stockpiles rise in Asia
    * LME shut Friday, Monday for Easter holidays

    By Chris Kelly and Melanie Burton	
    NEW YORK/LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - Copper steadied on
Thursday following a 3 percent plunge the day before, helped by
consumer buying and upbeat jobs data in the United States, but a
long Easter weekend in the U.S. and European markets limited 
gains.	
    Investors sided with caution on Thursday, failing to take on
any big bets in front of a key U.S. non-farm payrolls report on
Friday and trade data from top copper consumer China, which will
shed light on consumption in a country that accounts for 40
percent of world copper demand.	
    Both figures are due before London reopens on Tuesday after
the 4-day Easter holiday weekend. The New York copper market
will be closed on Friday, reopening on Monday.	
    "Markets are pausing to digest this week's sell-off," said
Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital.	
    "We're data-dependent. Tomorrow's jobs report and China's
trade figures next week are either going to define growth or lay
a more cautious element to the global recovery."	
    Economists polled by Reuters expect the nonfarm payrolls
report will show the U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs last month.
That would represent a fourth straight month of solid job
creation, marking the longest stretch of monthly employment
gains topping 200,000 since 1999. 	
    London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month copper 
closed up $11 at $8,361 a tonne.	
    In New York, the COMEX May contract firmed 0.50 cent
to settle at $3.7955 per lb, after dealing between $3.7745 and
$3.8270.	
    Copper rallied this week to within 1 percent of its 2012
peaks above $8,700 a tonne and near $4 per lb on anticipation of
more monetary easing in the United States. But minutes from a
U.S. monetary policy meeting on Tuesday quashed those
expectations and led to a divestment of risk across markets.	
    Now prices are trading back within the middle of a range
held since late January, bid higher when they reach the bottom
of the range near $8,200 a tonne ($3.71 per lb) and capped by
producer selling at around $8,600 ($3.90/lb), Citi analyst David
Wilson said.	
    "Each time copper dips we see consumer hedging and some
buying from investors. But as prices get to about $8,600, you're
getting some of the small producers selling. Funds have no
conviction either way, so it seems to be stuck in this range for
now," he said.	

    Copper was capped by a stronger dollar versus the euro after
data showed the number of Americans lining up for new jobless
benefits fell to the lowest in nearly four years last week,
while a disappointing Spanish debt auction on Wednesday fueled
worries about further problems for euro zone economies.	
    A stronger dollar makes U.S. priced commodities like copper
and aluminum more expensive for holders of other currencies.	
    	
    CHINA IMPORTS	
    Chinese trade data early on Tuesday is expected to show
consistently high copper imports as metal is used as collateral
to secure cheaper financing in the credit-strapped country.
 	
    China's arrivals of refined copper are expected to have
risen in March after February's higher-than-expected figure as
importers scheduled more term shipments under 2012 contracts on
expectations of peak domestic demand, traders said last month.
 	
    "You're probably going to find the import number is
reasonable, given the Chinese are buying for financing reasons.
It's just got nothing to do with consumption," Citi's Wilson
added.	
    Import figures, which used to be seen as a barometer for
demand, have become muddied over the past year because up to 80
percent of imports are used for financing deals. 	
    Given still paltry domestic demand, traders are also
interested in the volume of exports, which may have jumped in
March as local smelters and traders took advantage of higher
international prices to sell their plentiful stocks abroad.
 	
    Consistent with the re-export of metal from China, copper
stocks in warehouses monitored by the LME rose by more than
5,000 tonnes, data showed on Thursday, with shipments registered
in Singapore and Busan. 
    	
 Metal Prices at 1854 GMT
                                                                                 
  Metal            Last      Change  Pct Move   End 2011   Ytd Pct
                                                              move
  COMEX Cu       379.75        0.70     +0.18     343.60     10.52
  LME Alum      2109.00       16.00     +0.76    2020.00      4.41
  LME Cu        8361.00       11.00     +0.13    7600.00     10.01
  LME Lead      2059.00       46.50     +2.31    2035.00      1.18
  LME Nickel   18405.00      550.00     +3.08   18710.00     -1.63
  LME Tin      23170.00      570.00     +2.52   19200.00     20.68
  LME Zinc      2003.00       21.00     +1.06    1845.00      8.56
  SHFE Alu     16070.00      -95.00     -0.59   15845.00      1.42
  SHFE Cu*     59910.00     -100.00     -0.17   55360.00      8.22
  SHFE Zin     15395.00      -50.00     -0.32   14795.00      4.06
 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper
 * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN
 SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07

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