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METALS-Copper stumbles to 17-month low as inflation data fans slowdown fears

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(Updates prices, adds U.S. manufacturing) By Eric Onstad LONDON, July 1 (Reuters) - Copper prices slumped on Friday to their weakest in 17 months as inflation and factory data reinforced fears that central bank tightening would push economies into a recession and hit metals demand. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had eased 2.6% to $8,047 a tonne by 1630 GMT after dropping to its lowest since early February 2021 at $7,955.

"Recession fears are the dominating factor right now, that's taking casualties right, left and centre. Every time there's an indication of more hawkish policy, markets fall further," said Nitesh Shah, commodity strategist at WisdomTree.

Euro zone inflation hit another record high in June, data showed on Friday, which Shah said "looks alarming high, giving more firepower to the ECB". Even some bullish news from top metals consumer China failed to lift sentiment. China's manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest in 13 months in June, buoyed by a strong rebound in output. But U.S. manufacturing activity slowed more than expected in June to a two-year low, while the picture was also gloomy in the euro zone. "Trying to get China back to full speed when the rest of the world is looking like it will slow down is going to be difficult," Shah added. LME copper was on track for a fourth consecutive weekly decline, having registered its worst quarter since 2011 in the three months ended June, falling 20.4%. It was down 4% for the week. Other industrial metals also fell, with zinc dropping 9% this week and aluminium headed for its sixth straight weekly fall.
* Also weighing on metals was a firmer dollar index , making commodities priced in the U.S. currency more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
* Why sentiment in industrial metals has been crumbling
* LME aluminium was barely weaker at $2,445 a tonne, zinc dropped 3.3% to $3,052.50, the lowest since October 2021, and tin shed 1.1% to $26,150. Nickel slid 3.6% to a five-month low of $21,890,
but lead climbed 1.7% to $1,940.50.
(Reporting by Eric Onstad; additional reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis, Shinjini Ganguli and David Evans)

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