March 11, 2020 / 6:21 AM / 23 days ago

METALS-Copper prices ease as stimulus promises fail to calm virus fears

(Recasts, updates prices)

By Mai Nguyen

SINGAPORE, March 11 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Wednesday as worries over the unabating spread of the coronavirus erased gains fuelled by hopes for stimulus measures to cushion the rising economic damage from the outbreak.

The White House and Congress negotiated measures on Tuesday to bolster the U.S. economy against the epidemic's impact, while Japan announced a second package of measures worth about $4 billion.

But growing scepticism about Washington's stimulus package to fight the outbreak knocked the steam out of earlier rallies.

"We expect that in the short- to medium-term, market volatility will remain, as governments across the world look to provide firm commitments to substantial economic stimulus packages," Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities said in a note.

"There may still be a long way before market fear is mitigated and confidence is fully restored," Lau said.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose as much as 0.8% to $5,612 a tonne, before paring gains to ease 0.1% at $5,562.50 a tonne by 0725 GMT.

The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures (ShFE) closed down 0.6% to 43,900 yuan ($6,317.00) a tonne, after rising as much as 0.5% earlier in the session.

Death toll in Italy from the coronavirus jumped to 631, while China's new cases rose for the first time in five days as infected individuals arrived from overseas. Globally here the virus has infected more than 116,000 people and killed over 4,000.

FUNDAMENTALS

* PRICES: LME aluminium fell 0.5% to $1,688.50 a tonne, zinc firmed 1.3% to $2,002 a tonne, lead increased 0.3% to $1,800 a tonne, while ShFE nickel fell 0.4% to 101,820 yuan a tonne and ShFE aluminium closed down 0.3% at 12,820 yuan a tonne.

* LITHIUM: Albemarle Corp, the world's largest producer of lithium for electric vehicle batteries, said it is experiencing a "weak" first quarter in China.

* CHINA AUTOS: Vehicle sales in China, the world's top car market, tumbled in February as customers stayed at home and away from dealerships due to the epidemic.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or

PRICES

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

ARBS ($1 = 6.9495 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; editing by Aditya Soni and Uttaresh.V)

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