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LONDON: Copper fell on Monday as data showed weakness in China's property sector, Chinese coal prices plunged, the U.S. dollar strengthened to a 16-month high and a supply squeeze on the London Metal Exchange (LME) continued to ease.

China is the biggest consumer and producer of metals. Less homebuilding would reduce demand, and lower coal prices should reduce energy costs for smelters.

Metals are priced in dollars, so the strong greenback makes them more expensive for buyers with other currencies.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.7pc at $9,640 a tonne at 1746 GMT, having earlier reached $9,773, the highest level since Oct. 27.

Prices are still up around 25pc this year after rising 26pc in 2020.

Copper edges higher despite warning signs from China

Fears of a slowdown in China are overblown, with the government likely to act if needed to support growth, said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.

He said copper should rally strongly later in the decade as demand increases and supply runs short. "The copper market will head into a structural deficit in the next few years but not in the next few months," he said.

CHINA: While the property sector was weak, China's industrial output and retail sales grew more quickly than expected in October.

SQUEEZE: A supply squeeze in the LME warehouses system continued to ease, with the premium for cash copper over the three-month contract falling to $32.50 from more than $1,100 last month.

On-warrant copper stocks in LME warehouses have risen to 50,300 tonnes from 14,150 tonnes last month but are still down from more than 200,000 tonnes in August.

CHINA OUTPUT: China's production of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel - was 5.26 million tonnes in October, up 0.5pc from September but down 2.6pc year-on-year, the statistics bureau said.

METALS PRICES: LME aluminium was down 2.2pc at $2,640.50 a tonne, zinc fell 1.7pc to $3,213, nickel lost 2pc to $19,585, lead slipped 1.8pc to $2,318.50 and tin was down 1.3pc at $37,350.

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