Off The Wire
METALS-Copper rises on bargain hunting, gains seen as fragile
* LME/ShFE arb: (Updates with closing prices)
By Eric Onstad
LONDON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Thursday as bargain hunters took advantage of recent losses, although analysts expect further downward pressure because of weaker demand from China.
"The general tendency is still to buy the dips. There's still some optimism there," said Carsten Menke, analyst at Julius Baer in Zurich. "But I think that copper is trading at lofty levels ... We've already seen Chinese property starts and sales growth turning negative recently."
Chinese copper demand from its huge construction sector alone is greater than total copper demand from either Europe or the United States, Menke added.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed 0.2 percent higher at $6,564 a tonne. Copper, which has gained 19 percent this year, fell on Tuesday to $6,507.50, its weakest since Oct. 10.
Julius Baer has a three-month copper price target of $6,000.
* COPPER SUPPLY: News that Zambia lifted a ban on night driving for truckers was welcomed, but Menke said bottlenecks were still feared after the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) suspended all train services following a strike, including the transportation of copper. * ALUMINIUM: LME three-month aluminium shed 0.4 percent to finish at $2,010 a tonne after touching a four-month low of $1,998.50. A confirmed break of support at the 200-day moving average of $2,000 would open the way to further selling.
* ALUMINIUM PREMIUMS: Some Japanese aluminium buyers have agreed to pay some global producers a premium of $103 a tonne for shipments in the first quarter of next year, higher than the $94-$95 premium in the current quarter. * NICKEL: LME nickel climbed 2.2 percent to close at$11,045 a tonne, rebounding after touching a new two-month trough of $10,740.
* VALE NICKEL: Providing some support was news that Brazilian miner Vale SA dialled back its nickel output forecasts for the next five years on Wednesday. * NICKEL TECHNICALS: "It has now confirmed a head and shoulders (formation) denoting possibility of further correction towards $10,400/330," Stephanie Aymes, head of technical analysis at Societe Generale, said in a note.
* ZINC: LME zinc rose 0.2 percent to end at $3,090 a tonne while lead slid 3 percent to $2,433.
The spread between the sister metals, which many investors use as a basis for trading, narrowed on Wednesday to $578, the tightest seen since Sept. 22, Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.
The spread has declined from a peak of $851 on Oct. 31.
TIN: LME tin dipped 0.3 percent to $19,425.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ LME/ShFE arb ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair)