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METALS-Copper falls on signs of slowing demand

HANOI, March 29 (Reuters) - London copper prices fell on Monday amid rising exchange inventories and signs of weakening demand from top consumer China weighed on sentiment.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.7% to $8,900 a tonne by 0321 GMT, while the most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange advanced 1.1% to 66,290 yuan ($10,131.28) a tonne, tracking gains in London in the previous session.

Copper inventories in LME warehouses MCUSTX-TOTAL have risen 67% so far in March to 123,800 tonnes, their highest since Dec. 16, 2020. Stockpiles of the metal in ShFE warehouses CU-STX-SGH were last at 188,359 tonnes, a high level unseen since September 2020.

Meanwhile, Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN dropped to $60 a tonne, its lowest since Dec. 23, 2020, as inventories in bonded warehouses SMM-CUR-BON leaped to 382,000 tonnes, their highest since July 2019, indicating weakening demand for imported metal into China.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Refined nickel inventories in ShFE warehouses SNI-TOTAL-W dropped to their lowest since June 2019 at 9,339 tonnes.

* Japan’s Sumitomo Corp said its Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar resumed operation on March 23 after being shut since March 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis.

* Annual profits at China’s industrial firms surged during the January-February period, highlighting a rebound in the country’s manufacturing sector and a broad economic recovery.

* LME aluminium fell 1% to $2,275.50 a tonne, zinc was down 0.7% at $2,812 a tonne, while ShFE nickel rose 1.4% to 123,250 yuan a tonne and ShFE tin jumped 2.1% to 175,630 yuan a tonne.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian share markets turned mixed as U.S. equity futures slipped and investors awaited details of proposed trillions in U.S. fiscal spending that many are counting on to supercharge the global economic recovery.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

No major data or event.

$1 = 6.5431 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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