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METALS-LME copper set for first monthly fall in 1 year

HANOI, March 31 (Reuters) - London copper prices on Wednesday were set for their first monthly decline in a year, as a firm U.S. dollar and a new wave of coronavirus infections in Europe prompted traders to exercise caution.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was trading 0.5% lower at $8,734 a tonne by 0300 GMT, down 3.8% on a monthly basis for the first fall since March 2020.

The contract, however, is still set for its fourth straight quarterly gain, as tight mine supply, demand hopes and strong liquidity in the financial markets pushed prices to $9,617 a tonne in February, only 6% shy of the record $10,190 level.

The most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1.3% to 65,440 yuan a tonne, also on track for a monthly drop.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Canada’s Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd said its Oyu Tolgoi mining unit in Mongolia declared force majeure on some Chinese copper concentrate contracts due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

* China’s manufacturing activity expanded at the quickest pace in three months in March as factories cranked up production.

* LME nickel was set for the first quarterly decline since March last year, following Tsingshan’s announcement to produce a large amount of nickel matte in Indonesia earlier this month.

* LME aluminium edged up 0.1% to $2,233 a tonne, zinc dropped 0.7% to $2,791 a tonne while ShFE aluminium declined 1.2% to 17,185 yuan a tonne, ShFE nickel shed 2.4% to 120,380 yuan a tonne and ShFE zinc decreased 1.3% to 21,590 yuan a tonne.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian stocks were set to open higher, as global financial shares retraced some of their recent losses, driven in part by higher bond yields, and as investors awaited a closely watched Chinese factory activity survey.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

0600 UK GDP QQ, YY Q4

0600 UK Nationwide house price MM, YY March

0755 Germany Unemployment Chg, Rate SA March

0900 EU HICP Flash YY March

Reporting by Mai Nguyen, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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