METALS-Copper slides to 2013 low on growth worries, China
* Property curbs in China help undermine sentiment
* Many China consumers still away after Lunar New Year- trader
* Nickel, tin fall more than 3 pct before paring losses
(Recasts, updates prices, adds details) LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Copper slid to its weakest in nearly two months on Thursday on worries about a lack of demand from top consumer China, signs of slow growth in the Europe and the U.S., and concerns that the Federal Reserve may withdraw monetary stimulus. Other metals were also dragged lower as speculators liquidated positions, sending nickel to a near three-month low. Stronger economic data from China and the United States in recent months had bolstered the market, but a lack of underlying metals demand in China and news on Wednesday of curbs on the property sector there has hit sentiment. "Clearly the Chinese real estate market is very, very important both in terms of its confidence effects and the impact it has on the overall construction industry," said Nic Brown, head of commodities research at Natixis in London. The cabinet in China - which accounts for 40 percent of copper demand - on Wednesday restated its intention to extend a pilot property tax programme to more cities, in the latest effort to calm frothy real estate markets.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was last bid down 1.26 percent in kerb trade at $7,860 a tonne, adding to losses from the previous session when it saw its second-biggest single-day fall for the year. Copper touched an intraday low of $7,813 a tonne, its lowest since Dec. 24, pulling prices back into negative territory for the year. Volumes, however, touched their highest since September last year, indicating heavy two-way traffic. Metals markets, also burdened by heavy stockpiles, were disappointed this week when an expected surge of buying from Chinese industrial users failed to materialise following the Lunar New Year holiday. "Until you see a stronger push from Chinese end-user demand feeding through into genuine demand for metal from outside the country, then there is a clear limit to what LME prices can do," Brown added. Deepening the gloom was surprisingly weak euro zone Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data for February which dashed hopes of an early recovery for the recession-hit region. In addition, U.S. data showed factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region fell unexpectedly in February, while jobless claims rose more than expected last week. On a brighter note though, U.S. home resales edged higher in January. "People do expect the Chinese government to promote moderate growth for 2013 so consensus is a modest recovery," said Barclays commodity analyst Sijin Cheng in Singapore. "Before physical demand really comes in from China or the U.S., I think copper will be dominated by macro sentiment."
NICKEL BIGGEST LOSER Several traders said copper's losses were hastened by chart-based selling after prices fell through key levels of support at the 100-day moving average near $8,000 a tonne on Wednesday. Copper's losses dragged on other metals. Nickel and tin were the biggest losers, dropping more than 3 percent at their session lows. Nickel ended down 3.15 percent at $16,630 a tonne after hitting its lowest level since Nov. 27, and tin gave up 2.53 percent to $23,125 a tonne, having hit its weakest in two months. Aluminium was last bid down 1.28 percent at $2,076 a tonne, having earlier hit its softest since Jan. 30, zinc ended down 0.98 percent at $2,112 and lead closed down 1.02 percent to $2,326, having earlier hit its lowest point in a month. Metal Prices at 1720 GMT Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T
Metal Last Change Pct Move End 2009 Ytd Pct
COMEX Cu 355.70 -5.10 -1.41 334.65 6.29 LME Alum 2076.00 -27.00 -1.28 2230.00 -6.91 LME Cu 7860.00 -190.00 -2.36 7375.00 6.58 LME Lead 2326.00 -24.00 -1.02 2432.00 -4.36 LME Nickel 16630.00 -540.00 -3.15 18525.00 -10.23 LME Tin 23075.00 -650.00 -2.74 16950.00 36.14 LME Zinc 2111.50 -21.50 -1.01 2560.00 -17.52 SHFE Alu 14965.00 -125.00 -0.83 17160.00 -12.79 SHFE Cu* 57620.00 -1080.00 -1.84 59900.00 -3.81 SHFE Zin 15640.00 -260.00 -1.64 21195.00 -26.21 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN
SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07
(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by William Hardy)