METALS-Copper gains as the dollar eases in choppy trade

(Updates throughout)

LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Copper gained on Thursday in choppy trade as the dollar reversed gains, making commodities prices the greenback cheaper for buyers with currencies.

Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose 1% to $7,773 a tonne by 1750 GMT, after earlier touching its lowest since Dec. 23 at $7,705.

“Today we saw some technical support below the 50 day moving average and some moderate weakness in the dollar index and against the yuan, pushing copper higher,” Sucden Financial head of research Geordie Wilkes said.

“Fundamentally the case for copper remains strong but we are seeing apprehension in the market at current levels going into Chinese New Year.”

Logistical issues in COVID-19 vaccinations dented hopes for a speedy recovery in the global economy, keeping a lid on prices for copper.

U.S. DATA : The U.S. economy contracted at its sharpest pace since World War Two in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

INVENTORIES: Copper stocks in warehouses certified by the LME are at their lowest since September at 76,350 tonnes. Stocks in warehouses registered with the Shanghai Futures Exchange are at their lowest since 2011 while Comex inventories are also slipping. MCUSTX-TOTALCU-STX-SGHHG-STX-COMEX

CHINA DEMAND: The Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN rose to $72 a tonne, its highest since August 2020, SMM data showed.

POSITIONING: The LME copper net speculative long has declined to 35% of open interest from a January peak of 46%, according to broker Marex Spectron. Longs on Comex copper have also eased from recent highs.

CHILE: The state-run Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) said on Thursday that it had raised its projection for the price of copper for this year to $3.30 per pound amid progress in vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 as well as good prospects for the Chinese economy.

OTHER PRICES: Aluminium slipped 0.5% to $1,983 per tonne, zinc rose 0.2% to $2,590, lead lost 0.5% to $2,035, tin rose 1.2% to $23,070,while nickel was down 0.5% to $17,810. (Reporting by Zandi Shabalala,; Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Jan Harvey, Bernadette Baum and Alison Williams)