Copper gains capped by long term prospects, higher stocks

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 1% to $6,607.50 a tonne

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Workers are seen at a production line of copper foils used for lithium batteries, at a Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group plant in Tongling, Anhui province, China November 30, 2018. Picture taken November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Workers are seen at a production line of copper foils used for lithium batteries, at a Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group plant in Tongling, Anhui province, China November 30, 2018. Picture taken November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer.

SINGAPORE- Copper prices firmed on Monday as expectations of robust demand from top consumer China supported sentiment, but doubts about longer-term prospects and a jump in London Metal Exchange stocks capped gains.

Benchmark copper on the LME traded up 0.6% at $6,584.5 a tonne in official rings. Prices of the metal, used widely in the power and construction industries, are down more than 4% since hitting a 27-month high at $6,877.50 last week.

The rally was based on the massive Chinese fiscal stimulus in recent months, which boosted economic activity and industrial metals demand after the coronavirus lockdowns.

"Chinese demand is still rising, but not at the pace it was, there will be resistance to higher prices," Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.

"Stimulus in China pulled demand forward, it did not generate additional demand. It is difficult for China to start large infrastructure projects which have a big impact on the economy because most of them have been done."

DATA: Profits at China's industrial firms grew for the fourth straight month in August, buoyed in part by a rebound in commodities prices and equipment manufacturing.

September surveys of purchasing managers in China's manufacturing sector, particularly the new and export order components, due on Wednesday will be scrutinised for clues to demand growth for industrial metals. 

UNITED STATES: Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are working on a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that could be voted on this week. Talks on the package had stalled for nearly two months. 

INVENTORIES: Stocks of copper in LME registered warehouses jumped 29,500 tonnes to 103,125 tonnes and cancelled warrants -- metal already earmarked for delivery -- slipped to 41% from near 60% last week.

This has eased concerns about a tight LME market and the premium for the cash over the three-month contract has reversed into a discount.

OTHER METALS: Aluminium was up 1.3% at $1,772 a tonne, zinc gained 1.6% to $2,407.5, lead slipped 0.4% to $1,826.5, tin rose 0.5% to $17,276 and nickel climbed 1.4% to $14,460.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and David Evans) ((pratima.desai@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 513 5681))

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