Wires

METALS-Copper falls as virus outbreak stokes demand worries

Mai Nguyen

(Updates prices, recasts) Feb 7 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Friday as the mounting death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China raised fears of potential economic damage and lower demand for metals in the world's second-largest economy. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) fell 0.4% to $5,713.50 a tonne by 0744 GMT, while the most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed down 0.6% at 45,670 yuan ($6,545.89) a tonne. Moves in other metals were mixed on both bourses as a rally ran out of steam.

LME aluminium rose 0.4% to $1,744 a tonne, nickel

advanced 0.3% to $13,095 a tonne, while zinc edged down 0.2% to $2,202 a tonne.

In Shanghai, aluminium rose 0.5% to 13,725 yuan,while nickel dipped 0.1% to 105,260 yuan a tonne, zinc

decreased 0.3% to 17,295 yuan a tonne, and lead fell 0.7% to 14,070 yuan a tonne. The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic crossed 630 in mainland China, while the number of cases totalled more than 31,100, according to latest data. Guangxi Nanguo Copper smelter has declared force majeure on deliveries of copper concentrate as a result of the outbreak, sources told Reuters. China's economy could be disrupted in the first quarter due to the outbreak, but it is expected to recover once the virus is brought under control, a vice governor of the central bank said.

"We hold on to our core view for metal prices to head slightly higher in 2020 in general compared to 2019," said Fitch Solutions, expecting a recovery in the second half of 2020 as the outbreak eases and China steps up fiscal support measures. "Nevertheless, the balance of risks to our 2020 price forecasts is tilted to the downside, as a prolonged spreading of the coronavirus could push metals below key levels of support, which would prompt us to review our forecasts," Fitch said.

FUNDAMENTALS

* BARRICK/GRASBERG: Barrick Gold Corp is interested

in Freeport McMoRan Inc 's flagship Grasberg mine in

Indonesia, Chief Executive Mark Bristow said.

* INDONESIA NICKEL: The first battery-grade nickel and cobalt project in Indonesia using high-pressure acid leaching technology could start commissioning in the second half of 2020, consultancy firm CRU Group said.

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

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 Most active ShFE nickel Three month LME tin Most active ShFE tin

ARBS

($1 = 6.9769 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Aditya Soni and Subhranshu Sahu)