Copper pressured by China property worries after holiday

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By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Sept 25 – Copper, zinc and other base metals slid on Tuesday, rattled by more concerns about the economy in top metals consumer China and adjusting after a one-day closure of Chinese markets.

Chinese share markets fell on Tuesday, partly driven by a plunge in property firms on worries that a property pre-sale system may be scrapped.

Construction is one of the top sources of demand for industrial metals such as copper and zinc.

“We note developers shares declined more than 3 percent… (with) debt fears resurfacing following last week´s positive around tax cuts and consumption growth,” Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.

The negative sentiment in China caused the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE), which was closed on Monday for the Mid-Autumn Festival, to only partially track Friday’s rally on the London Metal Exchange.

While LME copper surged 4.6 percent on Friday in its biggest one-day advance since May 2013 and pulled back only marginally on Monday, ShFE copper rose only 1.5 percent on Tuesday.

Three-month LME copper was down 1.2 percent at $6,277 a tonne by 1045 GMT.

“The move in LME copper is just an adjustment around the arb (arbitrage), given that copper rallied whilst the Chinese were off for the day,” said Nicholas Snowdon, metals analyst at Deutsche Bank in London.

* ARBITRAGE: Arbitrage windows for copper, zinc and nickel have been open for an extended period, normally spurring imports of metals into China, but this has been curbed due to uncertainty over possible cuts in import taxes, Snowdon said.

“At the moment traders are holding back on importing metal until they have clarity on the actual tax adjustment and the timing,” he said.

Premier Li Keqiang said China would cut import and export costs for foreign firms in comments posted on Sunday.

* COPPER STOCKS: LME copper inventories <MCUSTX-TOTAL> fell further on Tuesday to 212,925 tonnes, the lowest since January.

* TREATMENT CHARGES: China’s top copper smelters have set their floor treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for the fourth quarter at $90 per tonne and 9 cents per pound, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday, down from $95/9.5 cents in the same period last year.

* TC/RCs typically fall when concentrate supply declines or smelting capacity rises.

* ZINC: Bearish investors have been targeting LME zinc , which shed 1.3 percent to $2,531 a tonne. “The metal exhibits the second largest short of the complex on our estimates at 25 percent of open interest,” Munro at Marex said.

* ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium dipped 0.4 percent to $2,051 a tonne.

($1 = 6.8618 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Mark Potter)

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