METALS-Copper inches higher ahead of Fed outcome; traders eye China demand pick-up

Recasts, adds comments, updates prices

BEIJING, Feb 1 (Reuters)Copper prices edged higher on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting outcome, with investors also awaiting post-holiday demand pick-up in top consumer China.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 was up just 0.3% at $9,246 a tonne by 0437 GMT. The most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SCFcv1 added 0.4% to 69,740 yuan ($10,333.69) a tonne.

The Fed is widely expected to raise rates by 25 basis points at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting later in the day. Investors will closely monitor comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell too. FEDWATCH

Physical demand in China was quiet as producers held sufficient stocks that they built up before the holidays, and as consumption from end users remained weak amid lowered orders from both domestic and overseas market, participants said.

“There will be more activities next week when more traders and buyers come back,” a Chinese trader said.

The muted trading has led to a steep rise in inventories for refined copper readily in the market. It rose to 267,500 tonnes on Jan. 30, an increase of 80,800 tonnes from Jan. 19, according to local information provider Mysteel.

Still, investors were optimistic at industrial metals demand prospects as the world’s top consumer vowed to support its economy and the real estate sector.

“So far, interest from Chinese traders has been muted,” said ANZ Research, adding that sentiment, however, was boosted after China’s January official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) expanded for the first time since September 2022.

Meanwhile, the Caixin/S&P Global PMI showed China’s factory activity shrank more slowly in January after Beijing lifted tough COVID curbs late last year.

Among other metals, LME aluminium CMAL3 shed 0.4% to $2,632.50 a tonne, zinc CMZN3 advanced 1% to $3,423.50, tin CMSN3 was up 1.1% to $29,820, and lead CMPB3 gained 0.4% to $2,144.50.

SHFE aluminium SAFcv1 climbed 1.2% to 19,145 yuan a tonne, tin SSNcv1 rose 1% to 237,700 yuan, lead SPBcv1 eased 0.4% to 15,165 yuan, while nickel SNIcv1 was up 2% to 225,900 yuan.

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($1 = 6.7488 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Siyi Liu and Dominique Patton; editing by Uttaresh.V)


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