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LONDON: Copper prices fell on Thursday as the prospect of further US interest rate rises sent caution through markets and boosted the dollar, making metals costlier for buyers with other currencies.

Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 2.3% at $8,906.50 a tonne at 1705 GMT and on track for its biggest one-day fall since Dec. 15.

Prices of the metal used in electrical wiring surged to a seven-month high of $9,550.50 a tonne in January as the dollar weakened.

However, US economic data has remained surprisingly strong and minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting reveal plans to slow - but not stop - interest rate increases.The dollar rose to its strongest since Jan. 6 and analysts said they expect higher-for-longer rates to push down global stock markets over the next three months.

On the supply side, Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals said its Minera Panama business had suspended ore processing operations at the Cobre Panama mine.

LME aluminium was down 0.9% at $2,396 a tonne, zinc fell 1% to $3,026, nickel dropped 3.9% to $25,400 a tonne, lead was down 2.1% at $2,059.50 and tin lost 2.4% to $26,200 a tonne.

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