METALS-Copper steadies, China factory data points to recovery
* HSBC China flash Jan PMI hits two year high of 51.9
* PT Timah customers say not received January spot tin
* Coming up: U.S. Markit manufacturing PMI Jan at 1358 GMT
(Updates prices, adds comment, detail; previous SINGAPORE) LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Copper steadied on Thursday, with strong growth in China's factory sector boosting expectations of a pickup in demand from the world's top consumer of metals, although prices were held back by disappointing corporate earnings. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange stood at $8,085 at 1031 GMT, down $17 from a close of $8,103 a tonne on Tuesday when it also hit a 2-1/2 week high of $8,154.25 in intraday trade in the previous session. Growth in China's giant factory sector accelerated to a two-year high in January, a preliminary private survey showed, as manufacturers received more local and foreign orders.
This gave hope to expectations that demand from China, which accounts for around 40 percent of refined copper demand, could recover following the week-long Lunar New Year holiday in mid February. "It points to the fact China's economy has turned around and we will probably see higher growth rates again throughout this year," said Daniel Briesemann, analyst at Commerzbank. "We expect to see demand pickup from infrastructure projects in China and this (data) supports our opinion." Keeping sentiment in check, however, was a fall in equity markets in China and Europe after a third straight quarter of weaker-than-expected revenue from U.S. giant Apple
Also weighing on prices was data showing French business activity shrank in January at the fastest pace since the trough of the global financial crisis. The data bucks the trend in Germany, where figures showed private sector activity jumped to its highest level in a year in January, but the inconsistencies of the pace of recovery in Europe fanned concerns that the region's growth is still vulnerable.
RANGEBOUND Copper hit its highest level in more than two months at $8,256.50 earlier in January following a deal by U.S lawmakers to avoid a "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax increases. But prices have failed to make significant headway since then, staying in a range of $8,047 to $8,154.25 this week. "Copper looks like it may be capped at $8,165/t in the nearer term, and is likely to trade within a $200-range below that level," ANZ analysts said in a note. In industry news, Indonesia's top tin producer, state-backed PT Timah has failed to deliver on some spot tin contracts agreed in December, citing heavy rains that have disrupted production, two of its customers told Reuters.
Indonesia is the world's top exporter of tin AND PT Timah expects to produce between 27,000 and 31,000 tonnes in 2013. Benchmark tin slipped to $24,340 a tonne from Wednesday's close of $24,450 a tonne. In other metals, benchmark aluminium was at $2,073.25 from Wednesday's close of $2,077 while lead was at $2,369.75 from $2,370 a tonne. Nickel fell to $17,500 from $17,545 while zinc slipped to $2,079 from a last bid of $2,084.50 a tonne.
Metal Prices at 1031 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 367.65 0.05 +0.01 365.25 0.66 LME Alum 2074.00 -3.00 -0.14 2073.00 0.05 LME Cu 8082.25 -20.75 -0.26 7931.00 1.91 LME Lead 2369.25 -0.75 -0.03 2330.00 1.68 LME Nickel 17492.00 -53.00 -0.30 17060.00 2.53 LME Tin 24305.00 -145.00 -0.59 23400.00 3.87 LME Zinc 2078.50 25.50 +1.24 2080.00 -0.07 SHFE Alu 15230.00 -25.00 -0.16 15435.00 -1.33 SHFE Cu* 58430.00 -160.00 -0.27 57690.00 1.28 SHFE Zin 15470.00 -75.00 -0.48 15625.00 -0.99
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)