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METALS-Copper gains as Chinese liquidity worries ease

(Updates prices)

HANOI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Copper prices edged higher on Monday as investors were relieved that China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, might not be tightening credit as much as expected.

China has been tightening regulations in its property sector, which consumes a vast amount of metals, to ward off bubbles, while its banking and insurance regulator also proposed risks management measures at financial institutions.

Investors have been worried that China would further tighten liquidity in the market by raising interest rates, but the country’s central bank on Friday denied rumours that it had raised the interest rate on its standing loan facility.

“The metals (markets) are relieved that the liquidity squeeze will be eased ahead of the Chinese New Year, even if there will be less money in the system than previous years,” said commodities broker Anna Stablum of Marex Spectron.

“It (China’s credit tightening) is not over until it’s over, but the peak of the squeeze is likely to be behind us,” Stablum added.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange gained 0.1% at $7,861 a tonne by 0703 GMT, having risen as much as 0.5% earlier in the session.

The most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed down 0.1% at 57,910 yuan ($8,965.09) a tonne. The contract rose as much as 0.7% earlier in the session to 58,350 yuan a tonne.

Worries about copper demand pressured prices after data showed China’s factory activity in January grew at the slowest pace in months hit by a wave of domestic coronavirus infections and falling export orders, surveys showed.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Premiums for imports of copper into China have jumped to their highest in more than five months, as rising waves cause disruption to shipments from top producer Chile.

* LME aluminium rose 0.6% to $1,990 a tonne, nickel advanced 1.2% to $17,910 a tonne and zinc advanced increased 0.8% to $2,599 a tonne.

* ShFE aluminium jumped 2.2% to 15,260 yuan a tonne, while tin dropped 2% to 169,450 yuan a tonne after ShFE tin inventories SSN-TOTAL-W surged 22.1% last week.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or ($1 = 6.4595 yuan) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Uttaresh.V)

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