LONDON: Copper prices held steady on Monday before planned US-China trade talks and a flood of economic data, while shrinking profits at Chinese industrial firms highlighted the headwinds facing demand in the top consuming country.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was little changed at $5,961 a tonne at 0946 GMT.
"This will be an eventful week for base metals as investors await signals from key economic data releases and trade talks restart between China and the US," ING analyst Wenyu Yao said. "Metals markets will be more influenced by the macro side."
GROWTH: Data due this week includes surveys of purchasing managers in China's manufacturing sector, the US monthly jobs report and ISM manufacturing survey, industrial output from Japan and growth figures from the euro zone.
FED: A major focus for markets this week is a meeting of the Federal Reserve on Tuesday and Wednesday. The US central bank is widely expected to cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade.
Lower rates will weigh on the US currency, which when it falls makes dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for importers using other currencies, potentially boosting demand.
INDUSTRY: Profits earned by China's industrial firms contracted in June after a brief gain in May.
TRADE: US and Chinese negotiators meet in Shanghai this week for their first talks since a G20 truce last month, a change of scenery for two sides struggling to resolve deep differences on how to end a year-long trade war.
Expectations for progress in the two-day meeting are low.
CHINA: Analysts say changes in China's capital financing rules could boost infrastructure spending by 10% in the second half of this year from the same period last year.
"Of the three sectors with preferential capital treatment, utilities - power grid - stand out as the only sector with contracting investment year-to-date," analysts at JPMorgan said in a note.
"If the additional infrastructure investment were to be spent on China's utilities sector this could result in 500,000 tonnes of additional copper demand."
ZINC: Historically low stocks in LME-registered warehouses and one company holding large amounts of warrants and contracts with nearby expiry dates have fuelled concern about supplies on the LME market.
This can be seen in the premium for the zinc cash over the three-month contract at $12 a tonne compared with a discount a week ago.
Benchmark zinc was up 0.6% at $2,452, helped by data showing China's June imports of refined zinc jumped 56.8% from the same time last year to 56,878 tonnes.
PRICES: Aluminium was little changed at $1,801 a tonne, lead slipped 1.5% to $2,033, tin fell 0.3% to $17,590 and nickel ceded 0.5% to $14,030.