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METALS-London copper falls as U.S. dollar firms

(Updates prices)

HANOI, March 29 (Reuters) - London copper prices fell on Monday as a stronger dollar made greenback-priced metals more expensive to holders of other currencies.

The dollar was strengthened by cautious market mood that pushed investors to safety, while U.S. economic strength and a rapid vaccine rollout also added to the greenback’s shine.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.6% to $8,911.50 a tonne by 0707 GMT and the most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange advanced 1.2% to 66,340 yuan ($10,119.28) a tonne, tracking gains in London in the previous session.

“Strong industrial profit growth in China for the first two months this year was offset by a firm U.S. dollar,” said commodities broker Anna Stablum of Marex Spectron in a note, adding that risk appetite was also limited by declines in the equities markets.

Annual profits at China’s industrial firms surged during the January-February period, highlighting a rebound in its manufacturing sector and a broad economic recovery.

Also weighing on prices were copper inventories in LME warehouses MCUSTX-TOTAL rising 67% in March to 123,800 tonnes, their highest since Dec. 16, 2020.

Meanwhile, Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN dropped to $60 a tonne, its lowest since Dec. 23, as inventories in bonded warehouses SMM-CUR-BON leaped to their highest since July 2019.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Refined nickel inventories in ShFE warehouses SNI-TOTAL-W dropped to their lowest since June 2019 at 9,339 tonnes.

* Japan’s Sumitomo Corp said its Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar resumed operation on March 23 after being shut since March 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis.

* LME aluminium fell 0.2% to $2,291.50 a tonne, zinc dipped 0.1% to $2,827 a tonne. ShFE nickel rose 1.8% to 123,750 yuan a tonne and ShFE tin jumped 1.9% to 175,300 yuan a tonne.

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$1 = 6.5558 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Amy Caren Daniel

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