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LONDON: Copper prices steadied on Monday as worries about demand in top consumer China were offset by strong export growth data from the country, falling inventories and the passing of a $1 trillion US infrastructure bill.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was little changed at $9,500 a tonne at 1059 GMT. The price of copper, which is used in the power and construction industries, has traded in a narrow $300 range over the past week as the market awaits definitive clues about future demand prospects.

"Industrial metals are still faced with headwinds amid signs of an easing energy crisis and demand destruction that added pressure on the economic outlook from the largest consumer (China) and elsewhere in the world," ING analyst Wenyu Yao.

"As a result, the outcomes from China's Politburo meeting this week will be closely scrutinised for clues on demand-side prospects for metals."

Copper bounces on scarce supplies and robust risk appetite

Exports: China's export growth beat forecasts, helped by booming global demand ahead of the winter holiday season, an easing power crunch and an improvement in supply chains that have been badly disrupted by the pandemic.

Copper: Stocks in LME registered warehouses have more than halved since late August to 115,525 tonnes.

Cancelled warrants - metal earmarked for delivery - at 62% suggests overall stocks are set to fall further. Concerns about copper availability on the LME market have created a premium for the cash over the three-month copper contracts.

Usa: President Joe Biden on Saturday hailed congressional passage of a long-delayed $1 trillion infrastructure bill which supported sentiment in industrial metals markets.

Technicals: Copper has yet to break decisively below a congestion area between $9,450-$9,490, which houses the 50-day moving average, the 100-day moving average and a Fibonacci retracement level.

Further strong support comes in at $9,350, where the 200-day moving average currently sits.

Other Metals: Aluminium was flat at $2,555 a tonne, zinc fell 0.3% to $3,219, lead rose 0.1% to $2,253, tin climbed 0.8% to $37,350 and nickel slipped 0.1% to $19,405

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