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METALS-Copper dips after upbeat U.S. jobs data boosts dollar

Susan Thomas
Friday, 8 Nov 2013 | 9:14 AM ET

* U.S. nonfarm payrolls higher than expected, dollar surges

* China's Oct copper imports down on month but up on year

* Nickel biggest loser on week, set for 4.5 pct weekly drop

LONDON, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Copper dipped on Friday as the dollar extended gains on the back of better-than-expected U.S. jobs data, but losses were limited by solid imports of the metal into top consumer China.

The dollar index gained after U.S. job growth unexpectedly accelerated in October as employers shrugged off a government shutdown.

A firmer dollar makes metals priced in the U.S. currency more expensive for buyers outside the United States.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange shed 0.4 percent to $7,114.50 a tonne by 1346 GMT.

Copper, on track to fall nearly 2 percent this week after a near 1 percent rise last week, has remained firmly within a $7,000-7,420 band since early August.

The market got support from data showing China's copper imports in October rose 26.4 percent from October 2012, although they fell 11.2 percent from September, when they hit an 18-month high.

"October was a holiday month (in China), so the fact that imports were only down slightly was quite impressive, and they have increased very strongly on a year-on-year basis," Barclays analyst Gayle Berry said.

"I think what that's telling us is that China's appetite for copper is still strong. And our reading of that is that some of it is end-use demand, but also certainly there has been a pickup in financing demand."

Importers in China have been keen to use copper as collateral for short-term loans due to expectations of a cash crunch in the domestic market ahead of the year-end, according to traders in China.

Traders said increased interest by importers had cut the availability of copper in bonded warehouses in Shanghai, pushing buyers to get shipments from the international market.

Investors are also waiting for a weekend Chinese leadership meeting that may offer clues on economic policy.

Reflecting the fragile economic recovery in the West though, U.S. growth accelerated in the third quarter as businesses restocked, but the slowest expansion in consumer spending in two years suggested an underlying loss of momentum.

For the week, benchmark LME nickel was the biggest loser, facing a drop of 4.5 percent after slipping 0.6 percent to $13,917 a tonne on Friday.

Tin was the only metal in positive territory, rising 0.7 percent to $22,850 a tonne after news about potentially weak supply from Indonesia.

An industry group in Indonesia said tin reforms aimed at funnelling exports through a single exchange have caused half the smelters in its top tin-producing region to halt their operations and sparked a wave of protest.

LME three-month aluminium shed 1.0 percent to $1,805, zinc lost 0.6 percent to $1,893.50 and lead fell 0.7 percent to $2,129.

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