LONDON: Copper and most other base metals slipped on Monday on worries that weaker global growth will curb demand, but many investors were on the sidelines ahead of key economic meetings in China and the United States.
“We're seeing losses because some of the growth numbers have been pretty weak, particularly out of Europe last week," said Robin Bhar, head of metals research at Societe Generale in London. “There's also no sign of any China stimulus and U.S. growth seems to have peaked."
China's retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2003 and its industrial output rose the least in nearly three years, according to official data released last week.
“With the numbers last week being pretty poor, maybe the government will do a bit more stimulus than the market's expecting, so that might be a positive for metals," Bhar added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to deliver a speech on Tuesday to mark the 40th anniversary of Chinese market reforms, with the nation's Central Economic Work Conference also set for this week.
Investors were also eyeing an interest rate decision and forward guidance by the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange, down about 15 percent this year, fell 0.1 percent to close at $6,123 a tonne.
* ALUMINIUM STOCKS: On-warrant LME aluminium inventories, metal in warehouses not earmarked for delivery, gained 5 percent to 958,550 tonnes, daily data showed on Monday.
They have surged 58 percent since the start of October, partly because Chinese restrictions of scrap imports have created a surplus of primary metal outside of China and also because of end-of-year accounting considerations, Bhar said.
LME benchmark aluminium gained 0.8 percent to close at $1,942 a tonne.
* ZINC: On-warrant LME zinc stocks have gained 21 percent since the start of December, having been attracted by the strong premium of cash zinc over the three-month contract, which peaked at a record of $125 a tonne on Dec. 5.
The rise of LME inventories has helped to push down the premium to $26 a tonne at Friday's close.
Three-month LME zinc shed 0.2 percent to finish at$2,539 a tonne.
* LEAD: LME lead dropped 0.9 percent to close at $1,931 a tonne, having touched its lowest since Nov. 28 at $1,923. Data showed China's lead output in November rose 18.3 percent year on year to the highest monthly total in records going back to 1995.
* PRICES: Tin rose 0.1 percent to close at $19,350 a tonne, while nickel fell 0.9 percent to $10,985.