METALS-Copper steady in thin trade as focus turns to U.S. data

Jan 26 (Reuters)Copper held steady on Thursday as traders awaited U.S. economic data that could influence the Federal Reserve’s rate-hike path and offer clues on prospects of metals demand, while a week-long Lunar New Year holiday in top consumer China kept volumes thin.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 was up 0.2% at $9,329 a tonne, as of 0202 GMT.

The dollar =USD languished near an eight-month low against its peers, as a gloomy U.S. corporate earnings season stoked recession fears. FRX/

A weaker dollar makes the U.S. currency-priced commodity more attractive for those holding other currencies.

The U.S. Commerce Department is set to release its initial advance fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimates at 1330 GMT.

The U.S. central bank’s two-day policy meeting starts next week, and traders have priced in a 25-basis-point interest rate hike, a step down from the 50-bp and 75-bp increases seen last year. FEDWATCH

Meanwhile, global economic growth is forecast to barely clear 2% this year, according to a Reuters poll of economists, who said the greater risk was a further downgrade to their view.

On the supply side, copper production in Chile, the world’s largest producer of the red metal, will grow at a slower rate this decade than previously hoped, a government report seen by Reuters showed.

Social unrest in Peru, the world’s second-biggest copper producer, has also raised fears of disruption at mines.

In other metals, aluminium CMAL3 was flat at $2,658.50 a tonne, lead CMPB3 was up 0.8% at $2,177, zinc CMZN3 gained 0.4% to $3,462 and tin CMSN3 slipped 0.7% to $30,650.

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1330 US Durable Goods Dec

1330 US GDP Advance Q4

1330 US Initial Jobless Clm Weekly

1500 US New Home Sales-Units Dec

(Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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