March 29, 2018 / 7:24 AM / a year ago

METALS-Prices stall in first quarter as trade concerns bite

 (Updates prices)
    MELBOURNE, March 29 (Reuters) - London copper moved higher
on Thursday but has dropped by around 7 percent in the first
quarter, reflecting complex-wide losses on fears that an
escalating trade spat could slow the demand for metals.
    Concerns that worsening trade relations between China and
the United States could spill across into other countries have
fuelled worries about a slowdown in China, which is already
seeing inventories build, said analyst Helen Lau at broker
Argonaut in Hong Kong. 
    "Overall the inventory after China's new year did not come
down as much as the industry expected," she said. 
    "China's economic slowdown and the escalating trade war
concerns... All of this is pointing towards headwinds for
commodity demand."
    * LME: London Metal Exchange copper was up 1 percent
at $6,729 a tonne by 0703 GMT, having stabilised in the previous
session. Prices this week fell to their weakest since early
December at $6,532 a tonne and are on course for a 7.1 percent
loss for the first quarter after double-digit growth for the
past two years. 
    * SHFE: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper closed up
0.8 percent at 49,880 yuan ($7,935.60) a tonne, having plumbed
this week to its weakest since July.
    * HOLIDAY: The LME will be closed on Friday, March 30, and
Monday, April 2, for the Easter holiday, with normal trading
resuming on Tuesday.
    * TARIFFS: U.S. President Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese
goods may not be imposed until early June, administration
officials said on Wednesday, with public consultations and
potential tariff revisions buying time for negotiations to
forestall them.
    * TARIFFS: China is still considering import curbs on U.S.
soybeans in retaliation for moves by Washington to impose trade
tariffs, director at the U.S. Soybean Export Council Asia Paul
Burke said.
    * CHINA: China will lower the value-added tax rate on the
manufacturing, transportation, construction, telecommunication
and agricultural sectors from May 1, state radio reported,
citing a cabinet meeting.
    * TRADE: China could target a broad range of U.S. businesses
from agriculture to aircraft, autos, semiconductors and even
services if the trade conflict with the United States escalates,
the China Daily newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday. 

    * COPPER: Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd, one
of China's biggest copper smelters, said on Wednesday its 2017
net profit more than doubled, growing at the fastest pace in
seven years, mainly due to higher copper prices.
    * For the top stories in metals and other news, click       
    *  Asian stocks sagged on Thursday after Wall Street slumped
on an extended sell-off in tech firms, while the dollar dipped
as it lost some momentum after surging to a one-week high.

 BASE METALS PRICES                         0703 GMT
 Three month LME copper                      6729.50
 Most active ShFE copper                       49880
 Three month LME aluminium                      2030
 Most active ShFE aluminium                    13815
 Three month LME zinc                           3306
 Most active ShFE zinc                         24955
 Three month LME lead                           2411
 Most active ShFE lead                         18735
 Three month LME nickel                        13305
 Most active ShFE nickel                       98810
 Three month LME tin                           20910
 Most active ShFE tin                         141690
 BASE METALS ARBITRAGE                              
 LME/SHFE COPPER              LMESHFCUc3      560.55
 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM           LMESHFALc3    -1031.36
 LME/SHFE ZINC                LMESHFZNc3       299.4
 LME/SHFE LEAD                LMESHFPBc3      145.19
 LME/SHFE NICKEL              LMESHFNIc3     -331.27
($1 = 6.2856 Chinese yuan)

 (Reporting by Melanie Burton, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips
and Subhranshu Sahu)
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