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Copper slips as China COVID fears outweigh supply tightness

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BEIJING — Copper slid on Wednesday, as steadily rising COVID-19 cases in world’s top metal consumer China stoked demand fears that outweiged tight global supplies.

Investors were also awaited more clues on U.S. interest rates ahead of the minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting, due at 1900 GMT today.

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Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.4% at $7,984 a tonne by 0203 GMT, while the most-traded December copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 0.1% to 64,690 yuan ($9,046.29) a tonne.

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China reported 29,157 new COVID-19 infections for Nov. 22, a new high in more than seven months. Large cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have tightened prevention measures, fanning worries about the impact on the world’s second-largest economy.

That was despite the low inventories prevailing in the market.

“Stock levels are currently very low. Equivalent to, on a global basis, around 2 days of demand. On an ex-china basis, just under a weeks demand,” said Paul White, secretary general at International Copper Study Group, at the annual Asia Copper Week event in Singapore.

“Normally we would expect stock levels to be around a month of demand.”

Some Chinese copper smelters are meeting miners in Singapore to discuss 2023 copper concentrate treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs).

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Freeport-McMoRan Inc expected difficult negotiations with Chinese smelters amid market uncertainties and a potential surplus.

Among other metals, LME aluminum was down 0.6% at $2,414 a tonne, lead added 0.1% at $2,095, tin slid 1.2% to $21,920 and zinc was down 0.5% at $2,900.

SHFE nickel dipped 0.3% to 199,470 yuan a tonne, lead nudged 0.4% down to 15,675 yuan, tin rose 2.4% to 182,550 yuan, zinc lost 1.2% to 23,550 yuan and aluminum slipped 0.2% to 18,885 yuan.

For the top stories in metals and other news, click or ($1 = 7.1510 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Siyi Liu and Dominique Patton; Additional reporting by Emily Chow in Singapore; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Rashmi Aich)

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