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METALS-London copper slips; China optimism supports prices

Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 | 8:45 PM ET

SYDNEY, Feb 13 (Reuters) - London copper edged down on Thursday as traders took profits after optimistic comments by the Federal Reserve chair on growth helped prices rally one percent in the previous session, while robust China trade data also underpinned sentiment.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged down by 0.2 percent to $7,137.50 a tonne by 0120 GMT, eroding gains of 1 percent from the previous session.

* The most-traded April copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange inched up by 0.2 percent to 50,650 yuan ($8,400) a tonne.

* U.S. Congress approved an increase in the country's debt limit through March 2015, bowing to President Barack Obama's demands for a debt limit increase without any conditions, but only after a dramatic Senate vote on Wednesday.

* The Federal Reserve will probably have to return to more "traditional" policy-making now that the U.S. jobless rate has fallen to 6.6 percent, close to the U.S. central bank's existing 6.5-percent threshold for considering an interest-rate rise, a top Fed official said on Wednesday.

* China surprised markets with a thumping trade performance in January as import growth hit a six-month high, drawing some scepticism about the data but still allaying fears of a deepening economic malaise.

* Shipments of new and replacement auto batteries in North America rose in December from a year ago as extreme cold temperatures caused more battery outages, data from the Battery Council International showed on Wednesday.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click , or

MARKETS NEWS

* Asian markets held steady near three-week highs on Thursday, as investors were cautiously optimistic after upbeat trade data from China eased concerns over the global economy and helped take some of the sting off the recent emerging markets turmoil.

DATA (GMT)

1330 U.S. Retail sales

1330 U.S. Weekly jobless claims

1500 U.S. Business inventories

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 = 6.0624 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin)