August 21, 2019 / 11:37 AM / 6 months ago

METALS-Copper prices firm ahead of Fed minutes

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: (Adds official prices)

By Zandi Shabalala

LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Copper prices edged higher on Wednesday ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes expected to shed light on actions to counter slow growth even as the U.S.-China trade war continues to pose a threat to metals demand.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose 0.2% to $5,724 a tonne in official trading rings, having touched a two-week low on Tuesday.

Macroeconomic conditions have been the main driving factor behind the moves in base metals, said Deutsche Bank analyst Nick Snowdon, adding that traders were positioning in anticipation of more macro events.

"In the run up to major policy events you will get position covering, and for base metals, which have been generally stretched to the downside, that is going to provide a bit of support," he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that he had to confront China over trade even if it caused short-term harm to the U.S. economy, saying Beijing had been cheating Washington for decades.

The tit-for-tat trade conflict between the world's two largest economies has subdued economic growth and cast doubt on demand for base metals, of which China is the world's biggest consumer.

FEDERAL RESERVE: Traders are also awaiting the U.S. central bank's annual Jackson Hole seminar this week and a Group of Seven summit at the weekend for clues on what additional steps policymakers could take to boost economic growth.

DOLLAR: The U.S. dollar edged off two-week highs, providing some support to dollar-denominated commodities, which become cheaper for holders of other currencies.

COPPER BALANCE: For the first five months of the year, the global copper market was in a 190,000 tonnes deficit, compared with a 131,000 tonnes deficit in the same period a year earlier, the International Copper Study Group said.

INVENTORIES: On-warrant LME copper inventories MCUSTX-TOTAL - those not earmarked for delivery - stood at 298,900 tonnes, near their highest since April 2018.

VEDANTA: Zambian President Edgar Lungu will not meet the chairman of Vedanta Resources to discuss the disputed liquidation of its Konkola Copper Mines on his visit to India this week, a statement from the Zambian State House said.

LEAD PRICES: Lead was at a one-week high on supply disruption. After failing to trade in official rings, lead was bid 1.3% higher at $2,088 a tonne.

"The fundamentals are strengthening due to stronger demand and declining production. Some smelters carried out maintenance and some cut production due to environmental inspections," said CRU analyst Dina Yu.

PRICES: Aluminium was bid 0.1% lower at $1,780 a tonne while zinc was bid up 1.3% to $2,255. Tin, meanwhile, fell 1.9% to $16,155 after touching its lowest in more than three years while nickel shed 0.8% to $15,730.

COLUMN: Tiny tin market sounds a recessionary warning note: Andy Home

Additional reporting by Tom Daly in BEIJING Editing by David Goodman

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