METALS-Copper slips on prospects for Fed stimulus pullback
SINGAPORE, July 18 (Reuters) - London copper slipped on Thursday after Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke reaffirmed plans to curtail bond buying by the end of the year, while slow northern hemisphere demand weighed on the prices of industrial metals.
* Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange eased 0.3 percent to $6,872 a tonne by 0111 GMT, adding to losses of more than 1 percent in the previous session.
* Copper prices have traded in a $6,600-$7,050 range for the past month, struggling to gain momentum above $7,000 a tonne given sluggish growth in top consumer China and summer holidays across much of Europe.
* The most-traded November copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell by 1.65 percent to 49,430 yuan ($8,100) a tonne.
* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday the U.S. central bank still expects to start scaling back its massive bond purchase program later this year, but he left open the option of changing that plan if the economic outlook shifted.
* U.S. housing starts and permits for future home construction unexpectedly fell in June, but the decline in activity was likely to be short-lived against the backdrop of bullish sentiment among home builders.
* China's Premier Li Keqiang urged caution about rushing to change economic policy to try to revive the country's sputtering growth, but he also signalled Beijing was prepared to take action if the economy slips too far.
* The London Metal Exchange's proposals to tackle the long queues that end-users face to obtain aluminium from warehouses are unlikely to resolve the problem, the chairman of the Japan Aluminium Association said on Wednesday.
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* Asian shares inched up to a near five-week high on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke pledged to keep monetary policy easy for the foreseeable future.
* The dollar held on to modest overnight gains early in Asia on Thursday after a choppy session that saw investors first sell then buy back the currency in reaction to comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0800 Euro zone Current account 1230 U.S. Weekly jobless claims 1400 U.S. Philly Fed business index 1400 U.S. Leading indicators 1430 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before Senate Banking Committee
PRICES Base metals prices at 0110 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct Move YTD pct chg LME Cu 6872.00 -18.00 -0.26 -13.33 SHFE CU FUT NOV3 49430 -830 -1.65 -14.30 HG COPPER SEP3 3.12 -0.01 -0.40 -99.15 LME Alum 1805.00 1.00 +0.06 -12.84 SHFE AL FUT OCT3 14295 -35 -0.24 -6.84 LME Zinc 1862.00 8.00 +0.43 -9.76 SHFE ZN FUT OCT3 14540 -1005 -6.47 -6.47 LME Nickel 13939.00 -31.00 -0.22 -18.75 LME Lead 2028.75 -1.25 -0.06 -13.30 SHFE PB FUT 0.00 -13885.00 -100.00 -100.00 LME Tin 19455.00 -70.00 -0.36 -16.86 LME/Shanghai arb^ -302
Shanghai and COMEX contracts show most active months ($1 = 6.1353 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin)