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METALS-Copper steadies as Chinese producer inflation stokes price curb fears

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HANOI, June 9 (Reuters) - Copper prices steadied on Wednesday as high factory gate prices in China raised concerns of price curbs by the government, countering support from supply worries and a promising demand outlook.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.04% at $9,967.50 a tonne by 0733 GMT, while the most traded July copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed 0.2% higher at 71,510 yuan ($11,186.90) a tonne.

Chinese May factory gate prices rose at their fastest annual pace in over 12 years on surging commodity prices, raising fears of government price curbs.

“It’s not an easy balancing act for the Chinese government to keep factory owners in business by having margins that make it worthwhile producing, while not putting too much burden on consumers where sentiment is still fragile after the global pandemic,” said Anna Stablum, a commodities broker at Marex Spectron.

“Demand is still good over there (in China), but the extra demand that would push spot premiums higher and cause the arbitrage to open is not there,” she added.

Political issues fed into concerns over supply from big producers in South America, supporting prices.

Socialist Pedro Castillo, who had pledged a tax overhaul on mining in Peru, was in the lead on Tuesday in the country’s presidential elections, while a proposed royalty bill and labour strikes at some of BHP Group’s mines could hinder Chilean supply.

“Few dare to go short on the long-term supply issues and great demand expectations from the ‘green economy’,” Stablum said, referring to expected strong consumption of the metal in applications like electric vehicles and renewable power.

“Thus, prices will be stuck around here for a bit longer.”

FUNDAMENTALS

* LME nickel advanced 1.2% to $18,150 a tonne, while ShFE nickel climbed 1.7% to 132,800 yuan a tonne, ShFE lead rose 2.9% to 15,450 yuan a tonne and ShFE tin jumped 1.6% to 207,600 yuan a tonne.

* The Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN fell to $26 a tonne, its lowest since February 2016 and down 77% from May 2020, indicating weak demand for imported metal into China.

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$1 = 6.3923 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Jan Harvey

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