December 18, 2018 / 12:27 PM / 6 months ago

METALS-Gloomy economic outlook pushes copper to 3-month low

(Updates with closing prices)

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell to a three-month low on Tuesday as fears that weak global growth will reduce demand combined with news that a large smelter in India could restart, lifting supply.

Investors were gloomy after Chinese President Xi Jinping in a speech offered no measures to boost the economy of the world's largest metals consumer, which recent data has shown is slowing.

Without new stimulus measures, metals prices were likely to fall, said Deutsche Bank analyst Nick Snowdon. "The overall picture (for China's economy) remains one of deterioration," he said.

COPPER: Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) closed down 2.5 percent at $5,970 a tonne after touching $5,955, the lowest since Sept. 18.

The metal used in power and construction is down around 18 percent this year, hit by weaker Chinese growth and a U.S.-China trade dispute.

PESSIMISM: Investor confidence in the global growth outlook is the lowest in a decade, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey showed on Tuesday.

CHINA: China's industrial output rose the least in nearly three years in November and retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2003, data last week showed.

YUAN: Better news for metals, however, came from offshore yuan derivatives which signal depreciation pressure on China's currency has eased. A weaker yuan makes metals costlier for Chinese buyers and helps push prices lower.

INDIA SMELTER: An Indian court ruling on Monday moved a 400,000 tonne-a-year copper smelter operated by Vedanta Ltd closer to being allowed to restart.

SPREAD: In a signal that supply tightness was easing, cash copper flipped from a premium to a $25.50 discount against the three month contract MCU0-3.

STOCKS: However, copper inventories in LME-registered warehouses at 122,000 tonnes remain near the lowest since 2008. MCUSTX-TOTAL

NICKEL: The global nickel market deficit widened to 19,600 tonnes in October, the International Nickel Study Group (INSG) said.

LEAD/ZINC: The global lead market deficit narrowed to 25,600 tonnes in October and the zinc market deficit decreased to 43,400 tonnes, data from the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) showed.

PHILIPPINES: A Philippine government panel has deferred a recommendation to lift a six-year-old moratorium on new mining projects.

OTHER METALS: LME aluminium ended down 0.9 percent at $1,925 a tonne, zinc finished 0.8 percent lower at $2,520, nickel fell 1.4 percent to $10,835 and tin slipped 0.7 percent to $19,210. Lead bucked the trend, closing up 2.2 percent at $1,973.

Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE and Tom Daly in BEIJING; editing by David Evans and Kirsten Donovan

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