METALS-Copper hits 1-month high on optimism over demand
* Copper rises to highest since Sept. 8 at $6,860.50/T
* LME/ShFE arb: * GRAPHIC-2017 metal returns: (Updates with official prices)
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Copper hit its highest in more than a month on Thursday as a softer tone to the dollar pushed most metals prices higher, and on optimism over the demand outlook from major consumer China.
The U.S. currency slipped to a two-week low against the euro as robust economic data from the euro zone came after minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting which indicated persistent concerns about low inflation. "There is a lot of momentum investor interest (in copper)," Capital Economics analyst Caroline Bain said. "And (there is) some optimism about demand... chiefly in China."
Many metals market participants are awaiting the outcome of China's Communist Party Congress next week, she said, for an indication of broader policy initiatives and their implications for metals demand. * LME COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper was up 0.7 percent at $6,851 a tonne in official midday trading. Prices earlier hit their highest since Sept. 8 at $6,860.50, and were edging towards a three-year peak of $6,970 hit on Sept. 5.
* COPPER STOCKS: Stocks of copper in London Metal Exchange warehouses fell by another 1,025 tonnes, exchange data showed on Thursday. They are now down 9 percent from mid-September's two-month peak.
* CHINA DEMAND: Solid demand in China has opened the 'arbitrage window' for copper imports, traders said. Premiums for copper held in China bonded zones have climbed by $9 this week to $74, the highest in more than two months. * NICKEL: LME nickel was at $11,220 a tonne in official trading, up 0.8 percent, having earlier touched a three-week peak of $11,305.
* ZINC AND LEAD: LME zinc and lead were untraded in official midday rings, but were last bid up 1.2 percent at $3,259.50 a tonne and up 0.4 percent at $2,575 a tonne respectively. The latter was held in check by prospects of rising supply after a China smelter said it had restarted production. * ZINC BACKWARDATION: The premium of cash zinc over the three-month contract stood at a 10-year high of $80 a tonne, indicating shortages in immediately available supply.
* MMG: MMG Ltd, the international mining unit of state-owned China Minmetals Corp, has become China's preferred developer of overseas projects and is looking at acquisitions beyond its core strengths of copper and zinc, MMG's chief executive said. * U.S. INTEREST RATES: Fed policymakers had a prolonged debate about the prospects of a pickup in inflation and slowing the path of future interest rate rises if it did not, according to the minutes of the U.S. central bank's last policy meeting. * OTHER METALS: LME aluminium was 0.6 percent higher at $2,142 a tonne in official trading, while tin was down 0.6 percent at $20,750 a tonne.