METALS-Copper up on Chinese imports, chart-based buying
* Chinese copper imports hit 18-month high in Sept
* Oz Minerals cuts 2013 copper production forecast
* Coming Up: Euro zone Industrial production at 0900 GMT
(Adds comment, detail, updates prices) SINGAPORE, Oct 14 (Reuters) - London copper edged higher on Monday, boosted by robust Chinese imports of the metal in September that triggered some chart-based buying, but worries about the United States' fiscal deadlock meant gains were limited. Copper imports by China, the world's top consumer of the metal, jumped 18 percent in September from August, reversing a fall in August. That triggered a volley of short-covering as prices moved through resistance at $7,200, a trader said.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.5 percent to $7,236 a tonne as of 0700 GMT, turning round after early losses of around 0.7 percent. Copper prices closed last week down nearly 1 percent, the biggest weekly loss since mid-September. A failure to resolve the U.S. debt crisis, despite promising signals late last week, curbed risk appetite, as did overall Chinese trade data at the weekend that showed an unexpected fall in exports in September. "Going forward, it does feel like the copper restocking cycle is maturing," said analyst Joel Crane of Morgan Stanley in Melbourne. "I'd expect imports to ease in October because of the holiday but even with fairly weak external demand I don't think they're going to drop off a cliff, especially because regional inventory is low," he added. Morgan Stanley sees copper trading at an average of $7,165 a tonne in the fourth quarter. The most traded January copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange also cut early losses to trade up 1.1 percent at 52,260 yuan ($8,500). Helping Chinese copper gain ground, Chinese shares edged up to a near four-week high on Monday, supported by gains in the railway sector, as the export data failed to dent investors' confidence in the economy. In the United States, negotiations to bring the fiscal crisis to an end showed signs of progress on Sunday, but there were no guarantees that the U.S. federal government shutdown was about to end or that an historic default would be avoided.
Oz Minerals cut its 2013 copper production target for the second time this year due to mine repair work, trimming its 2013 forecast by around 12,000 tonnes to between 70,000 and 75,000 tonnes of copper contained in concentrate. The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) said last month that the global copper market in June showed a 132,000 tonne deficit, helped by demand from China, which reached its highest monthly level in 1-1/2 years. At last week's industry LME week in London, the focus in nickel was on a looming export ban by Indonesia of laterite ore that would ultimately raise costs for Chinese producers by around $3,000 a tonne from $12,500 currently, supporting LME prices, Barclays said in a note. "General sentiment towards nickel was constructive on price prospects, due in part to the risks associated with the Indonesia export ban but also to the increased evidence of supply rationing ex-China given significant margin pressures at current LME prices levels," it said. Poor nickel prices have encouraged Glencore Xstrata and Vale to revive talks over a potential combination of their nickel operations in Canada's Sudbury basin in an effort to cut costs as prices for the metal languish, sources said.
Metal Last Change Pct Move YTD pct chg LME Cu 7236.50 36.50 +0.51 -8.73 SHFE CU FUT JAN4 52260 570 +1.10 -9.40 HG COPPER DEC3 3.29 0.02 +0.70 -99.10 LME Alum 1876.25 -4.75 -0.25 -9.40 SHFE AL FUT JAN4 14395 05 +0.03 -6.19 LME Zinc 1918.50 1.50 +0.08 -7.03 SHFE ZN FUT JAN4 14980 -565 -3.63 -3.63 LME Nickel 13916.00 -4.00 -0.03 -18.88 LME Lead 2123.00 21.00 +1.00 -9.27 SHFE PB FUT 14205.00 75.00 +0.53 -6.85 LME Tin 23495.00 20.00 +0.09 0.41 LME/Shanghai arb^ -602
PRICES Three month LME copper Most active ShFE copper Three month LME aluminium Most active ShFE aluminium Three month LME zinc Most active ShFE zinc Three month LME lead Most active ShFE lead Three month LME nickel Three month LME tin
($1 = 6.1206 Chinese yuan)
(Editing by Alan Raybould)