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METALS-Copper steady ahead of U.S. payrolls, China meeting

Melanie Burton
Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 | 10:50 PM ET

* LME copper cash-Nov backwardation could rise further

* LME data suggests 145,000-220,000 T of copper off warrant -Reuters calc

* Coming up: Germany industrial orders at 1100 GMT

(Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

SINGAPORE, Nov 6 (Reuters) - London copper was steady in low volumes on Wednesday, with traders reluctant to take positions ahead of a key labour report from the United States and a top leadership meeting in China.

Copper prices continue to wobble in a $7,000 to $7,420 a tonne range in place since early August, supported by steady demand from top consumer China and prolonged cheap liquidity in the U.S. which looks set to stick to its bond-buying programme until next year.

"Commodity prices in general improved last month which seems to be related to expectations for (delayed) tapering. We are expecting tapering to begin in March," said Alexandra Knight at National Australia Bank in Melbourne.

"There might be some upside risk for non-farm payrolls on Friday ... but metals are a bit directionless for now."

The U.S. will release its October labour market report at the end of the week. A sustained recovery in the jobs market is a precondition for the Fed to begin hauling back its commodity-friendly stimulus.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was little changed at $7,155 a tonne by 0315 GMT, after a small gain in the previous session.

The most-traded January copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slipped 0.31 percent to 51,410 yuan ($8,400) a tonne.

Markets are also watching China's once in a decade leadership plenary meeting which begins at the weekend. China's government is readying a series of economic reforms for release at the event.

China needs to sustain economic growth of 7.2 percent to ensure a stable job market, Premier Li Keqiang said as he warned the government against further expanding already loose money policies.

Copper prices could find near-by support if a large short position in November is forced to cover, traders said. Cash copper climbed to a $5 premium against the November contract from a $12 discount in mid-October. <MCU0-X3>

Reuters calculations based on LME data show that November's short position could be to hedge as much as 145,000-220,000 tonnes of metal that is not in the LME warehousing system. <0#LME-FBR>

This figure tallies with a drop in LME copper stocks and may suggest metal leaving warehouses is going into storage, rather than for consumption.

LME stocks have dropped by around 210,000 tonnes or by one third from 10-year highs reached in mid-June to around 470,000 tonnes, the most recent data shows. <MCUSTX-TOTAL>

Dimming the outlook for demand, the euro zone economy will expand slightly more slowly next year than previously expected because of weaker private demand and investment and inflation will stay well below the central bank target over the next two years.

German copper smelter Aurubis said its fourth-quarter pretax profit had dropped by half due to weak copper scrap and acid markets, a lower metal yield and a scheduled shutdown in Hamburg.

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 = 6.0968 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)