METALS-London copper range-bound amid virus concerns

Mai Nguyen

(Updates prices, adds comments) Feb 7 (Reuters) - London copper prices traded in a tight range on Friday as the mounting death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China raised fears of potential economic damage and lower demand for metals. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was little changed at $5,737.50 a tonne by 0637 GMT, while the most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures

Exchange declined 0.6% to 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 aluminum rose 0.5% to $1,745.50 a tonne, nickel

advanced 0.9% to $13,175 a tonne, while zinc edged up 0.1% to $2,209 a tonne.

In Shanghai, aluminum rose 0.4% to 13,715 yuan,while nickel dipped 0.1% to 105,250 yuan a tonne, zinc

decreased 0.4% to 17,285 yuan a tonne, and lead fell 0.7% to 14,065 yuan a tonne. The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic crossed 630 in mainland China, while 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.


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PRICES Three month LME copper Most active ShFE copper Three month LME aluminum Most active ShFE aluminum 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


($1 = 6.9769 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Aditya Soni)