Wires

METALS-Copper falls after surprise Fed rate cut, dire China data

Mai Nguyen

(Updates prices)

SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Monday as dismal industrial data from China and emergency policy measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve underscored the extent of economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fed slashed interest rates to near zero on Sunday and pledged to expand its balance sheet by at least $700 billion in the coming weeks, but this did little to calm investor panic over the deepening economic hit from the virus.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) declined 2.4% to $5,329.50 a tonne by 0700 GMT, while the most traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) closed down 1.5% to 42,320 yuan ($6,042.78) a tonne.

Copper is often used as a gauge of global economic health.

Industrial output in China, the world's biggest copper user, contracted at the sharpest pace in 30 years in the first two months of the year, data showed on Monday.

"Diving data in February is what everybody has anticipated, but my worry is March. People think things are going back to normal after utilisation rates recover, but they ignore the permanent loss of the supply chain," said a China-based metals analyst.

FUNDAMENTALS

* OTHER PRICES: LME zinc fell 1.5% to $1,954.50 a tonne, aluminium decreased 0.8% to $1,667 a tonne, nickel was down 1.3% to $12,155 a tonne and tin dropped 1.9% to $15,640 a tonne.

* SHANGHAI PRICES: ShFE aluminium fell 2.9% to 12,345 yuan a tonne, nickel advanced 1.6% to 98,890 yuan a tonne, while tin dropped 1.6% to 127,140 yuan a tonne.

* INVENTORIES: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper inventories rose another 10% in the past week to their highest in almost four years.

* ALUMINIUM: China's aluminium production rose by 2.4% to 5.85 million tonnes in January-February from a year earlier, official data showed.

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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 = 7.0034 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Aditya Soni, Devika Syamnath and Shailesh Kuber)