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METALS-Copper up after U.S. GDP data, China meeting eyed

Maytaal Angel
Thursday, 7 Nov 2013 | 9:15 AM ET

* ECB announces surprise rate cut to new record low

* U.S. third-quarter GDP, jobless data beat forecasts

* Indonesian tin exports rose four-fold in October

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Thursday following better-than-expected U.S. data and a surprise European Central Bank rate cut, while traders awaited a U.S. jobs report and a leadership meeting in China for more clues on the demand outlook.

The U.S. economy grew by a faster-than-forecast 2.8 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the quickest pace since the third quarter of 2012, data showed. Separate data showed jobless claims fell in the latest week.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange traded up 0.17 percent at $7,126.75 a tonne by 1354 GMT, having hit four-week lows in the previous session. The metal was last bid up 0.03 percent in official midday rings at $7,117 a tonne.

The latest U.S. numbers, combined with Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, will help investors gauge the timing of a Federal Reserve move to begin winding down its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying programme.

New research papers from two top Fed economists released on Wednesday called for the U.S. central bank to drive down unemployment by promising to hold interest rates lower for longer.

"The main number will be tomorrow's U.S. job figures. In general the mood is a little bit soft. Demand is there but not in big tonnages, and we have mixed news. I think prices can still come off a bit further in the next few weeks," said Herwig Schmidt, head of sales at Triland.

Also underpinning copper was a surprise decision by the European Central Bank to cut its refinancing rate to a record low of 0.25 percent in response to a sharp fall in inflation.

In China, leaders will start a four-day meeting on Saturday to set a reform agenda for the next decade as they try to steer the economy towards more sustainable growth after three decades of breakneck expansion.

Third-quarter metals demand from top consumer China was good, and financing demand remains strong, but a wall of supply from this year will keep copper prices in check, analyst Ivan Szpakowski of Citi in Singapore said.

"We've been bearish, and that hasn't changed," he added.

Reflecting rising supply, miner BHP Billiton has offered treatment and refining charges (TC/RC) for shipments of copper concentrates of $80 per tonne and 8 cents a pound to Japanese smelters, reflecting a 14 percent rise from the 2013 benchmark.

In industry news, the LME revised a proposal to fix backlogs in its warehouse network on Thursday, mandating shorter queues and announcing a review of its agreement with warehouse owners.

The backlogs have tied up millions of tonnes of metal, boosting the premium to secure delivery on physical markets and incentivising otherwise loss-making producers, especially in aluminium, to continue ramping up output.

In other metals, tin traded down 0.68 percent to $22,670 a tonne in rings, having earlier hit its lowest point since mid-September at $22,426 a tonne.

Refined tin shipments from top exporter Indonesia rose to 3,314.05 tonnes in October, more than quadrupling from the 785.99 tonnes in September but down 70 percent from October 2012.

On Aug. 30, Indonesia introduced a regulation forcing all 47 registered tin ingot exporters to trade on a domestic exchange before shipping material, part of a plan to set its own price benchmarks for tin.

"Because the coming months are likely to see increased trading volume and thus increased exports, the supply situation on the global tin market should ease again somewhat," Commerzbank said in a note.

"Initially, this could preclude any significant rise in tin prices. At the same time, however, the average production costs of $22,000 per ton should prevent any noticeable fall in prices," it added.

Lead was down 1.02 percent at $2,138 a tonne in rings, having earlier hit its lowest since mid-October at $2,131.25 a tonne. Zinc traded down 0.50 percent to $1,903.50 a tonne, having earlier hit its lowest since mid-October at $1,899 a tonne.

Aluminium declined 0.11 percent to $1,820 a tonne in rings, while nickel traded down 0.35 percent at $14,060 a tonne, having earlier hit its lowest since mid-October at $13,901 a tonne.

PRICES

Three month LME copper CMCU3

Most active ShFE copper SCFcv1

Three month LME aluminium CMAL3

Most active ShFE aluminium SAFcv1

Three month LME zinc CMZN3

Most active ShFE zinc SZNcv1

Three month LME lead CMPB3

Most active ShFE lead SPBcv1

Three month LME nickel CMNI3

Three month LME tin CMSN3