Copper hits 1-week high

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Copper rose on Friday after briefly hitting a one-week high as data showed China's economy grew at its slowest rate in three years in the second quarter, but maintained a pace that is not expected to undermine fragile global growth.

China's economy grew 7.6 percent in the April-June quarter from a year earlier.

The number was in line with market forecasts, however, giving investors some relief even as it left full-year growth on course for its softest showing since 1999.

The world's top copper consumer also released June reports for fixed asset investment and retail sales, both of which slightly exceeded forecasts.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose to $7,666.75 per tonne, its highest since July 6.

It was untraded in official rings, but bid at $7,674 a tonne, from Thursday's close of $7,555 a tonne.

“I don't think anybody has taken this data positively. Most of the negative risk was already priced, we knew China is slowing down so there is no surprise and (besides) it was better than feared,” said Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg.

Looking forward, he said: “I think we will bottom out. The future is bright for China. OK Europe is a disaster and US growth has slowed (but) it's in the price and central banks (will likely) try counter the trend with more liquidity.”

European Central Bank policymakers held out the possibility on Thursday of taking further measures to boost the flagging euro zone economy after a cut in their deposit rate to zero showed no sign of jolting banks into lending out more money.

Copper came under pressure earlier in the week, however, after minutes from the US Federal Reserve meeting showed the

health of the world's biggest economy might need to weaken further before the central bank will launch a new quantitative

easing program.

A MEASURE OF SUPPORT

Copper also got a measure of support from the euro, which recovered from session lows versus the dollar after Italy managed to auction three-year debt at lower borrowing costs.

A stronger euro makes dollar-priced metals cheaper for European investors.

The Italy bond auction relieved investors, especially as it came after Moody's downgraded Italy's government bond rating by two notches to Baa2 and warned it could cut it further.

Euro zone market strains had eased somewhat after Spain unveiled more austerity steps and euro zone finance ministers

agreed to grant Madrid the first batch of bailout funds for its troubled banks by the end of July, but the relief was short-lived.

“If we are to hold these levels, news out of the US and China will need to start being positive rather then just less negative then expected. This is precisely where we find ourselves, rather then hoping for the best we are hoping against the worst.

Expect markets to remain volatile as money remains on the sidelines,” said RBC Capital Markets in a note.

In other metals traded, soldering metal tin traded at $18,705 a tonne in official rings from Thursday's close of $18,500, while battery material lead was at $1,880 from $1,856.

Zinc, used in galvanising, was untraded in official rings, but bid at $1,869 from $1,843.

Zinc producer Nyrstar said late on Thursday it was looking into a$350 million ($353.8 million) redevelopment of its Australian Port Pirie smelter into a metals recovery facility to extend its processing capabilities.

Aluminium traded at $1,891.50 from $1,882, while stainless-steel ingredient nickel traded at $16,200 from $15,775. - Reuters


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