November 21, 2019 / 1:47 PM / 6 months ago

METALS-Copper slips as U.S. support for Hong Kong protesters fans trade fears

 (Updates with closing prices)
    By Peter Hobson
    LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Thursday
after U.S. legislation supporting protesters in Hong Kong
increased concerns that a U.S.-China trade deal would be
    Benchmark copper         on the London Metal Exchange (LME)
ended 0.8% down at $5,829 a tonne. 
    The metal used in power and construction has fallen about
20% from 2018 highs as the U.S.-China trade dispute has weakened
global economic growth and metals demand. It touched a two-year
low of $5,518 in September. 
    The copper market is in deficit this year and may be again
in 2020, said WisdonTree analyst Nitesh Shah. "But that's
getting overshadowed by concerns on the demand side," he added. 
    Prices will remain volatile until Washington and Beijing
give investors some clarity on their future trading
relationship, Shah said.    
    TRADE WAR: Completion of a "phase one" U.S.-China trade deal
could slide into next year, trade experts and people close to
the White House said, though China said it would strive to reach
an agreement and the Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing
had invited top U.S. trade negotiators for a new round of
face-to-face talks.                                       
    Possibly complicating the negotiations, the U.S. House of
Representatives on Wednesday passed two bills to back protesters
in Hong Kong and send a warning to China about human rights.
    GLOBAL GROWTH: The global economy is growing at the slowest
pace since the financial crisis, the OECD said on Thursday.
    TREATMENT CHARGES: Miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc         and
three Chinese copper smelters agreed a 23% cut in annual
treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for 2020, pushing the
industry benchmark to a nine-year low.             
    The fall reflects tight copper concentrate supply and
increasing Chinese processing capacity.
    FUNDAMENTALS: The global refined copper market was in a
330,000-tonne deficit for January-August, against a 268,000
tonne shortfall in the same period last year, the International
Copper Study Group (ICSG) said.                 
    ALUMINIUM SPREAD: The premium for cash aluminium over the
three-month contract rose to $13,50, its highest since the start
of the year, suggesting lower availability of nearby metal.
    NICKEL: The global nickel market was in a deficit of 50,800
tonnes in the first nine months of the year after a
122,800-tonne shortfall in the same period of 2018, the
International Nickel Study Group (INSG) said on Thursday.
    OTHER METALS: LME aluminium         finished 0.4% down at
$1,734 a tonne, zinc         fell 0.9% to $2,293 and lead
        slipped 1.5% to $1,958. Tin         rose 2.5% to $16,425
and nickel         closed 0.9% up at $14,485. 

 (Reporting by Peter Hobson; Additional reporting by Enrico dela
Cruz; Editing by Pravin Char and David Goodman
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