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METALS-Copper rises on Asia, U.S. data, weak demand still a drag

* Official China PMI climbs above 50 level first time since July

* HSBC index highest since February, but still below 50

* U.S. private sector adds most jobs in 8 months

* Coming up: U.S. Institute of Supply Management PMI, 1400 GMT

LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Thursday, helped by data that showed a glimmer of renewed vigour in big metals consumer China and other Asian economies, but gains were tempered by concerns about demand and Europe's grinding debt crisis. Data over the past month has shown the health of the global economy remains fragile, with retail sales and the housing market pointing to an improvement in the United States but Europe is still struggling. In China, the world's largest consumer of copper, official and private sector factory surveys showed the economy is regaining some traction, adding to other signs of economic revival in October. There were also signs of some improvement in the U.S. economy which added 158,000 job in October, data from a payrolls processor showed, far more than the 135,000 predicted in a Reuters poll. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was $7,815.5 per tonne in official rings from $7,759.5 at the close on Wednesday. ``We've had the slightly better PMI data which is no doubt helping metals lift off the lows we had earlier this week,'' said Citi analyst David Wilson. ``The lows we saw on Tuesday were good buying points and the data is probably being a little more supportive, but obviously there is still a sense of caution.'' In the United States, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, a sign the labour market's slow recovery is gaining traction. While the data out of Asia and the United States is positive for metals, the complex has been wounded in recent weeks, RBC pointed out in a research note, and many investors are still on the sidelines after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to swathes of the United States. ``So ''sell the rally`` players are still likely to come in on any rally for the time being and the reduced liquidity will likely mean choppy trading conditions will persist for a few more days,'' RBC said.

WORRIES Another worry is that Chinese copper buyers have not been stocking up as most of them have not seen a sustained improvement in their order books. An executive with a top copper tube and pipe maker in central China said his company still has not seen a pick-up in sales despite October being the start of the peak season. ``Orders have been slow since July. Our customers have been unwilling to stock up until they've got clearer policy signals after the 18th Communist Party Congress,'' he said, referring to China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition event scheduled to start on Nov. 8. A report by the International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC) saying the global market for refined copper is expected to swing into a 281,000 tonne surplus in 2013 from a deficit this year, also dragged on prices.

However, some of China's home appliance makers have reported third-quarter profits due to a reviving property market. Three-month aluminium, untraded in rings, was bid at $1,932 per tonne from $1,906 at the close on Wednesday. ``We continue to see risks in this market for as long as high cost production is subsidized, and excess supply is absorbed into lucrative inventory financing deals and reiterate our concern that prices could test lower towards $1,870 in the near term,'' ANZ said in a research note. Some provincial governments in China are helping to cut power costs for aluminium smelters, which are very energy intensive. Nickel was $16,395 in rings from $16,195 at the close on Wednesday and zinc was $1,889 f rom $1,870. Tin, untraded in rings, was bid at $20,440 per tonne from $19,925 and lead, also untraded, was bid at $2,109 f rom $2,068.

Metal Prices at 1317 GMT Comex copper in cents/lb, LME prices in $/T and SHFE prices in yuan/T

Metal Last Change Pct Move End 2011 Ytd Pct

move

COMEX Cu 354.55 2.80 +0.80 344.75 2.84 LME Alum 1939.25 33.25 +1.74 2020.00 -4.00 LME Cu 7818.75 59.25 +0.76 7600.00 2.88 LME Lead 2111.00 43.00 +2.08 2034.00 3.79 LME Nickel 16435.00 240.00 +1.48 18650.00 -11.88 LME Tin 20400.00 475.00 +2.38 19200.00 6.25 LME Zinc 1892.50 22.50 +1.20 1845.00 2.57 SHFE Alu 15335.00 -5.00 -0.03 15845.00 -3.22 SHFE Cu* 57070.00 250.00 +0.44 55360.00 3.09 SHFE Zin 14840.00 25.00 +0.17 14795.00 0.30 ** Benchmark month for COMEX copper * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN

SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07