* Duterte comments on full-scale mining ban underpin nickel
* Philippines defers decision to endorse Lopez to May
* Coming Up: Germany ZEW economic sentiment Mar at 1000 GMT (Adds comment, detail, updates prices)
By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE, March 14 (Reuters) - London copper was underpinned on Tuesday by expectations of stronger demand for the metal after China, the world’s biggest copper user, reported better-than-forecast industrial output data and fixed-asset investment figures.
China issued a raft of upbeat data on Tuesday showing the economy got off to a strong start to 2017, supported by strong bank lending, a government infrastructure spree and a much-needed resurgence in private investment.
China’s factory output rose 6.3 percent in January and February from the same period a year earlier, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday. Production was estimated to grow 6.2 percent. Fixed-asset investment grew 8.9 percent, also beating expectations.
China accounts for just under half of global copper demand. Improvement in manufacturing fed a brighter outlook for prices as several disruptions at copper mines have constrained the outlook for supply.
“Supply side issues should continue to support metal prices; however investors are likely to remain cautious leading into the FOMC meeting and other key economic releases,” said ANZ in a report.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was flat at $5,798 a tonne by 0701 GMT, adding to the 1.1 percent gain during the previous session. Copper last week fell to a two-month low at $5,652 a tonne on signs that mine disruptions may be abating.
Volumes were very low however with a turnover of less than 2,000 lots in the benchmark contract, suggesting caution ahead of a meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve that is expected to result in an interest rate rise on Wednesday.
Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose 0.7 percent to 47,360 yuan ($6,844) a tonne.
A strike at Peru’s biggest copper mine, Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s Cerro Verde, stretched into its fourth day after a meeting between the union and management failed to resolve a dispute over labour demands, a union official said on Monday.
Meanwhile, BHP Billiton on Monday invited striking workers at its Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world’s largest, to return to the negotiating table, after they rejected a similar approach on Saturday.
Escondida’s 2,500-member union has been on strike since Feb. 9 after new contract talks fell apart, and the mine has produced no copper since then.
Among other metals, LME nickel was also supported by the possibility of a full-scale mining ban in the Philippines, the world’s top exporter of nickel ore. It edged down 0.5 percent to $10,115 a tonne.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday accused some miners of funding efforts to destabilise his government as he talked about a possible plan to impose a ban on mining given the environmental damage producers have caused.
A Philippine congressional panel has deferred its decision on whether to confirm or reject the appointment of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, the head of the panel said on Tuesday, and will conduct more hearings in May.
Three month LME copper
Most active ShFE copper
Three month LME aluminium
Most active ShFE aluminium
Three month LME zinc
Most active ShFE zinc
Three month LME lead
Most active ShFE lead
Three month LME nickel
Most active ShFE nickel
Three month LME tin
Most active ShFE tin
$1 = 6.9197 Chinese yuan Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Sunil Nair