LONDON: Copper prices edged higher on Tuesday on hopes that top metals consumer China will extend support measures for its economy while nickel rebounded from three-year lows.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.1% at $8,374 a metric ton at 1200 GMT after falling by 0.8% on Monday from a two-month peak hit last week.
Helping boost the market was news that China’s central bank governor said that monetary policy will remain accommodative to support the economy.
Data showed profits at China’s industrial firms extended gains for a third month in October, albeit at a slower pace, suggesting more policy support from Beijing is needed.
“The growth play book that is applied by the Chinese government is clearer now than it was during the past 12 months or so,” said Carsten Menke, analyst at Julius Baer in Zurich.
“They are still looking to stabilise or partly stimulate the economy, but I think by now we can say with high conviction that they are not going to revert to these old school, broad-based, metals-intensive stimulus measures.”
Also supporting copper was news that a workers union at Peru’s large Las Bambas copper mine went on strike for an indefinite period.
Elsewhere, nickel prices rebounded after an industry report raised the prospect of a change in the way top supplier Indonesia prices the metal.
Prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained the most in two months while LME three month nickel rose 1.8% to $16,375 a ton.
Tin prices in Shanghai hit a seven-month low, falling as much as 4.5%, due to adequate supply and subdued demand, while the LME price gained 1.8% to $23,190 a ton after hitting the weakest since March on Monday.
Tin prices were pressured as domestic production remained steady while imports climbed, analysts at Hongyuan Futures noted.
The dollar index steadied after touching a three-month low as traders continued to unwind long dollar positions before this week’s U.S. and euro zone inflation data.
A firmer dollar makes commodities priced in the U.S. currency more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
LME aluminium slipped 0.4% to $2,202.50, zinc fell 0.6% to $2,524.50 and lead dropped 0.6% to $2,149.