METALS-Copper steady, supported by China revival signs
* Hedge funds, money managers raise bullish bets on copper
* Nearby tightness in aluminium intensifies
* Coming up: New York Fed Empire State survey for Dec at 1330 GMT
(Adds comment, detail; updates prices) SINGAPORE, Dec 17 (Reuters) - London copper was steady on Monday, consolidating from a five-week winning streak on signs of reviving growth momentum in top consumer China, while tentative progress on the U.S. "fiscal cliff" helped warm investor sentiment towards metals. Copper prices have staged a year-end rally, climbing 6 percent from mid-November, supported by a boost in buying from investors in the United States. But a lack of liquidity across many metals and the approaching year-end have crimped the chances of further sustained gains in prices for now. "There was some pretty good momentum over the weekend in the fiscal cliff negotiations. I don't think there are many people expecting the negotiations to blow up," said metals analyst Ivan Szpakowski at Credit Suisse in Singapore. "At first, a lot of the discretionary funds were a bit hesitant given the end-of-year and the fiscal cliff. But most people were reassured after all the improving China data and are now leaning towards the constructive side." Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was trading at $8,094.50 a tonne by 0334 GMT, up 0.37 percent from the previous session when it closed little changed, but locked-in a fifth straight week of gains. Copper hit its highest in nearly two months at $8,162 on Dec 12. Metals volumes were modest on Monday with around 1,700 lots of copper traded, but less than 100 lots of aluminium changing hands. The most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 0.59 percent to 58,180 yuan a tonne. Risk appetite was supported by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner's offer to accept a tax rate increase for the wealthiest Americans, which knocks down a key Republican road block to a deal resolving the year-end fiscal cliff.
Hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish bets on copper to their highest level since mid-October after a rally in prices, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's Commitments of Traders report on Friday. Lending support to metals, China's vast manufacturing sector grew in early December and U.S. factories were having their best month since April, surveys showed on Friday, adding to hopes that the world's top two economies were on the mend.
China will maintain steady economic polices in 2013, leaving room for manoeuvre in the face of global risks while deepening reforms to support long-term growth, the official Xinhua news agency said after an annual policy-setting conference on Sunday.
Solid growth from the U.S. and China will be crucial to reviving the world economy in 2013, particularly with the euro zone likely sliding deeper into recession.
ALUMINIUM SURGES A lack of available aluminium supply towards year-end has propelled its cash price to a $16.25 premium against three-month prices, the highest in more than 18 months. Tightness is being driven by a supply shortage over December-January where there are still some holders of short positions that cannot find metal to deliver. December aluminium traded at a $40 premium against January on Friday, ahead of the December prompt, or contract expiry next week. <MALZ2-F3> "We are approaching the December prompt and many are now wondering what will be the final outcome next Tuesday at noon," Triland said in a note. Although LME aluminium stocks <MAL-STOCKS> have hit successive record highs around 5.2 million tonnes over the past month, much of the metal is tied up in long warehouse queues and is unavailable to market.
Base metals prices at 0334 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct Move YTD pct chg LME Cu 8094.50 29.50 +0.37 6.51 SHFE CU FUT MAR3 58180 340 +0.59 5.09 HG COPPER MAR3 368.65 0.35 +0.10 7.29 LME Alum 2126.00 4.00 +0.19 5.25 SHFE AL FUT MAR3 15435 10 +0.06 -2.59 LME Zinc 2092.75 2.75 +0.13 13.43 SHFE ZN FUT MAR3 15665 110 +0.71 5.88 LME Nickel 17850.00 -25.00 -0.14 -4.60 LME Lead 2297.00 1.00 +0.04 12.87 SHFE PB FUT 15350.00 0.00 +0.00 0.43 LME Tin 23100.00 -50.00 -0.22 20.31 LME/Shanghai arb^ 970
Shanghai and COMEX contracts show most active months
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford)