By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE, Jan 10 (Reuters) - London copper crawled higher
on Thursday, boosted by Chinese trade data that showed exports
recovered in December but expectations of lower copper imports
due to ample stockpiles in the world's top metals consumer
helped put a lid on prices.
China's exports grew 14.1 percent in December from a year
ago to hit a seven-month peak, data showed on Thursday,
rebounding from three-month lows and racing past market
expectations for a 4 percent rise.
China is the world's biggest copper consumer, accounting for
40 percent of refined demand this year.
'The growth pick up in China is not really strong. GDP
growth momentum on a yearly basis may rise 0.4 percent...from
7.6 to 8 percent and that is probably not sufficient to trigger
a meaningful rally (in copper),' said Dominic Schnider, head of
commodity research at UBS Wealth Management.
'It really starts in the second quarter then copper has the
potential for a top side of around $8,600-$8,800,' Schnider
said, adding that improving mine supply will temper copper
prices in the second half of the year. UBS expects global copper
production to rise by 6 percent this year.
China's imports of copper likely fell in December as
year-end demand dwindled while local output stayed strong.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was
steady at $8,090 a tonne by 0214 GMT, paring early losses to
rise 0.12 percent from the previous session, when it finished
Prices have built a base above the $8,000 mark this year,
but have struggled to find traction since hitting a two-and-a
half-month high of $8,256.50 a tonne on Jan. 3, the loftiest
since Oct. 18.
The most traded April copper contract on the Shanghai
Futures Exchange rose by 0.19 percent to 58,450 yuan
($9,400) a tonne.
Reflecting moderating risk appetite, Asian shares steadied
on Thursday following an overnight rise in global equities on
early optimism about U.S. earnings, but investors remained
cautious ahead of China's trade data and the European Central
Bank meeting later in the day.
The European Central Bank is expected to keep interest rates
at a record low of 0.75 percent on Thursday, refraining from a
cut as the euro zone economy shows some signs of stabilising and
inflation still tops its target.
Tin prices hit the highest in 11 months at $24,650 a tonne
on Wednesday, boosted by technical momentum and expectations of
supply constraints from top exporter Indonesia, traders said.
Potentially crimping global supply, Indonesia will increase
its minimum purity requirements for tin ingot exports next year,
a trade ministry official said in December.
The global tin market was seen in a 4000 tonne deficit by
the end of this year, according to a poll of 9 analysts compiled
by Reuters in October.
Base metals prices at 0214 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct Move YTD pct chg
LME Cu 8090.00 10.00 +0.12 2.03
SHFE CU FUT APR3 58450 110 +0.19 1.33
HG COPPER MAR3 368.25 1.20 +0.33 0.82
LME Alum 2084.00 4.00 +0.19 0.63
SHFE AL FUT MAR3 15255 10 +0.07 -0.59
LME Zinc 2026.25 9.25 +0.46 -1.81
SHFE ZN FUT APR3 15460 -85 -0.55 -0.55
LME Nickel 17589.00 69.00 +0.39 2.53
LME Lead 2326.00 11.00 +0.48 -0.60
SHFE PB FUT 15160.00 35.00 +0.23 -0.59
LME Tin 24500.00 -150.00 -0.61 4.70
LME/Shanghai arb^ 638
Shanghai and COMEX contracts show most active months
($1 = 6.2262 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Muralikumar
Anantharaman and Miral Fahmy)
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