METALS-Copper rises on dollar, caution over China limits gains
* Japan's Pan Pacific, miners agree on 10 pct rise in TC/RCs for 2013 China Q4 GDP, December industrial output, retail sales due Friday
* Coming up: U.S. Housing starts Dec at 1330 GMT
LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Thursday as the dollar fell against the euro, but investor caution ahead of Chinese data on Friday and concerns about the global economy after the World Bank sharply cut its 2013 growth forecasts curbed gains. The World Bank slashed its 2013 forecast for global growth to 2.4 percent from its previous estimate of 3 percent, citing the prospect of poor performance across the developed world. While a Reuters poll showed top metal consumer China's annual economic growth is forecast to have quickened to 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter, the recovery is likely to be tepid and the economy may need continued policy support. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.2 percent at $7,961 a tonne by 1117 GMT from $7,946 at the close on Wednesday. It fell to $7,920 in the previous session, its lowest since Dec. 31. Copper prices rallied in early January to 2-1/2-month highs near $8,250 a tonne, but have since struggled to find momentum because of tepid demand in China and an increase in supply of the metal, which is used in construction and power. "As the year progresses I think what you'll start to see is that the upturn in Chinese economic growth will not feed through into the sustained strength in commodities demand," Ross Strachan, an economist at Capital Economics. "The double digit growth rates we have seen (in China) in the past is not likely to return." However, Strachan expects the dollar to remain weak in the short term, which will help support prices. A soft dollar makes commodities priced in the currency cheaper for holders of alternative currencies like the euro. The euro hit a session high against the dollar on Thursday. Besides fourth-quarter GDP, economic reports due from China include December industrial output, retail sales and house prices.
DEPRESSED The depressed appetite for copper in China can been seen in official statistics, which showed that December imports fell after a year spent accumulating stockpiles of the metal. Analysts estimate copper stocks in bonded warehouses in China are at around 800,000-900,000 tonnes, or three times the amount currently held in London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses. Feeding the swelling copper stocks is improving mine production, with Credit Suisse seeing growth of 5-6 percent this year. This is also being reflected in rising fees for smelters, which have gained the upper hand in negotiations over processing fees with miners this year. Japan's biggest copper smelter, Pan Pacific Copper, and China's top smelter, Jiangxi Copper, have won rises of more than 10 percent in copper concentrate treatment and refining charges from major miners, company sources said, reflecting a recovery in copper mine supply after years of deficit. Global miners pay TC/RC to smelters to convert concentrate into refined metal, with the charges deducted from the sale price, based on LME copper prices. Higher charges are typically seen when concentrate supply rises or when smelter capacity thins. The International Wrought Copper Council expects global mine supply to expand 6.5 percent to more than 17.7 million tonnes in 2013, versus growth of 3 percent this year. LME three-month tin was up 0.4 percent at $25,100 per tonne, and has hit 11-month highs in the last week as tight supply is unlikely to meet demand for the metal used in the electronics industry. Tin open interest -- contracts that have not yet closed out -- was at 23,084 lots on Thursday, up more than 20 percent since late November last year. "We like the fundamentals on tin, high open interest would seem to indicate this is already a pretty crowded trade and choppy trading conditions are likely to emerge if some of the weaker longs are forced out," RBC said in a research note. LME zinc was at $1,986 from $1,979 at Wednesday's close. Lead was at $2,263 from $2,266, aluminium was at $2,042 from $2,045, and nickel at $17,468 from $17,400.
Metal Prices at 1126 GMT Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T
Metal Last Change Pct Move End 2012 Ytd Pct
COMEX Cu 361.00 1.20 +0.33 365.25 -1.16 LME Alum 2042.00 -3.00 -0.15 2073.00 -1.50 LME Cu 7958.50 12.50 +0.16 7931.00 0.35 LME Lead 2260.50 -5.50 -0.24 2330.00 -2.98 LME Nickel 17470.00 70.00 +0.40 17060.00 2.40 LME Tin 25050.00 55.00 +0.22 23400.00 7.05 LME Zinc 1986.00 -8.00 -0.40 2080.00 -4.52 SHFE Alu 15240.00 -15.00 -0.10 15435.00 -1.26 SHFE Cu* 57740.00 -200.00 -0.35 57690.00 0.09 SHFE Zin 15265.00 0.00 +0.00 15625.00 -2.30 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN
SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07