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METALS-Copper on track for highest rising month since Sep 2012

Harpreet Bhal
Friday, 27 Dec 2013 | 8:24 AM ET

* LME reopens after two-day holiday

* LME copper stocks drop to lowest since January

* China economic growth seen at 7.6 pct this year-Xinhua

LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Copper prices rose to their highest in more than four months on Friday, lifted by tightening supplies and expectations that economic recovery in top consumer China will help boost demand for industrial metals next year.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange traded at $7,365 a tonne in official rings, up 1.3 percent, having hit its highest since mid-August at $7,410. The exchange resumed trading on Friday after a two-day holiday.

Copper prices are on track to rise almost 5 percent in December, their biggest monthly gain since September last year, but are still 7 percent lower in the year to date.

Prices broke below $7,000 a tonne in mid-November after holding in a $7,000-$7,400 range since August.

China's economic growth is likely to come in at 7.6 percent this year, according to a cabinet report cited by the official Xinhua news agency, just above the government's target of 7.5 percent and slightly below last year's 7.7 percent.

Its industrial output is likely to grow by about 9.8 percent in 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Friday.

China is the world's largest consumer of copper, accounting for as much as 40 percent of global refined demand.

"You will have some temporary seasonal restocking in China, ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays. But overall the upside will be capped by a stronger dollar in 2014," said Andrey Kryuchenkov, analyst at VTB Capital.

Buying in China is expected to wind down during the Lunar New Year holidays in January.

In a further boost to prices, the dollar remained weak against a basket of currencies. A weak dollar makes commodities priced in the U.S. unit cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Also supporting copper prices has been a lack of readily available metal due to falling exchange stocks.

The latest LME data showed copper stocks in exchange-registered warehouses dropped to their lowest since January at 370,950 tonnes.

LME cash copper surged in mid-December to a $30 premium against the three-month contract , the highest since May 2012. It traded at a $13 premium on Friday.

Still, ample copper concentrate seen flowing into the market next year will eventually feed into more stocks of refined copper, swelling supply and overhanging prices, said Dominic Schnider at UBS Wealth Management in Singapore.

"The next target in the coming weeks is $7,500 - but (there) I would be a seller," he added.

LME zinc rose to a 10-month high at $2,105, lifted by tighter supplies and firm demand. It traded at up 1.4 percent in official rings at $2,101 a tonne.

Lead rose to its highest since March at $2,284 a tonne, on technical buying after it broke through resistance at $2,259.25. It traded 1.5 percent higher in official rings at $2,278.50 a tonne.

LME tin untraded in rings, was bid at $22,950, up 0.1 percent, while aluminium, also untraded, was bid at $1,796.50, up more than 2 percent. Nickel traded at $14,250, up 1 percent.

Indonesia will provide exemptions to its 2014 mineral export ban for firms that process ore domestically, its mining minister said on Friday, providing some potential relief for mining giants Freeport and Newmont.

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