Wires

METALS-Copper slips as U.S. support for Hong Kong protesters fans trade fears

Peter Hobson

(Updates with closing prices) LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Thursday after U.S. legislation supporting protesters in Hong Kong increased concerns that a U.S.-China trade deal would be delayed.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME)

ended 0.8% down at $5,829 a tonne. The metal used in power and construction has fallen about 20% from 2018 highs as the U.S.-China trade dispute has weakened global economic growth and metals demand. It touched a two-year low of $5,518 in September. The copper market is in deficit this year and may be again in 2020, said WisdonTree analyst Nitesh Shah. "But that's getting overshadowed by concerns on the demand side," he added. Prices will remain volatile until Washington and Beijing give investors some clarity on their future trading relationship, Shah said.

TRADE WAR: Completion of a "phase one" U.S.-China trade deal could slide into next year, trade experts and people close to the White House said, though China said it would strive to reach an agreement and the Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing had invited top U.S. trade negotiators for a new round of face-to-face talks. Possibly complicating the negotiations, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed two bills to back protesters in Hong Kong and send a warning to China about human rights.

GLOBAL GROWTH: The global economy is growing at the slowest pace since the financial crisis, the OECD said on Thursday.

TREATMENT CHARGES: Miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc and

three Chinese copper smelters agreed a 23% cut in annual treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for 2020, pushing the industry benchmark to a nine-year low. The fall reflects tight copper concentrate supply and increasing Chinese processing capacity. FUNDAMENTALS: The global refined copper market was in a 330,000-tonne deficit for January-August, against a 268,000 tonne shortfall in the same period last year, the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) said. ALUMINIUM SPREAD: The premium for cash aluminium over the three-month contract rose to $13,50, its highest since the start of the year, suggesting lower availability of nearby metal. <MAL0-3> NICKEL: The global nickel market was in a deficit of 50,800 tonnes in the first nine months of the year after a 122,800-tonne shortfall in the same period of 2018, the International Nickel Study Group (INSG) said on Thursday.

OTHER METALS: LME aluminium finished 0.4% down at$1,734 a tonne, zinc fell 0.9% to $2,293 and leadslipped 1.5% to $1,958. Tin rose 2.5% to $16,425and nickel closed 0.9% up at $14,485.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Additional reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Pravin Char and David Goodman )