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Copper falls as Russia-Ukraine tensions blunt risk appetite

By Eileen Soreng

Feb 15 (Reuters) – Copper prices, often viewed as a gauge of global economic health, fell on Tuesday as tensions at the Ukrainian border prompted investors to scale back purchases of riskier assets.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.4% at $9,879.5 a tonne as of 0750 GMT.The most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed down 0.3% at 71,060 yuan ($11,190.90) a tonne.

“Current geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been weighing on prices along with expectations of interest rate increases by the Fed and other central banks due to persistently higher inflation,” CRU analyst Craig Lang said.

With buying in China expected to start picking up in the next few weeks as the economy returns to normal following the Lunar New Year holidays, visible copper stocks are likely to remain at multi-year lows in the near term, Lang added.

Asian shares fell on the day as investors contemplated the implications of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the wake of which the Group of Seven large economies (G7) could impose economic and financial sanctions on Russia.


* LME harga pintu aluminium slipped 0.4% to $3,200.5 a tonne, nickel fell 0.4% to $23,070, lead rose 0.5% to $2,298.5, zinc rose 0.1% to $3,571 and tin gained 0.9% to $43,670.

* ShFE aluminium rose 0.6% to 22,685 yuan a tonne, nickel fell 0.5% to 172,860 yuan, zinc shed 1.6% to 25,140 yuan, lead was flat at 15,360 yuan and tin was 0.3% higher at 333,870 yuan.

* The premium of LME cash aluminium over the three-month contract <MAL0-3> rose to $51.30 a tonne, the highest since July 2018, indicating tightening nearby supplies.

* Copper inventories <MCUSTX-TOTAL> in LME-approved warehouses were at 72,225 tonnes, the lowest since November 2005.The premium for cash copper over the three-month contract <MCU0-3> was at $64.50 a tonne, the highest in two weeks.

* A Peruvian community on Monday said it would not block the key mining road used by MMG’s Las Bambas copper mine, according to meeting minutes seen by Reuters, which should allow the firm to resume normal operations.

* St.Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard reiterated calls for a faster pace of Fed interest rate hikes, saying that four strong inflation reports in a row warranted more aggressive action and that the central bank needed to “ratify” market expectations about its upcoming moves.

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(Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Michael Urquhart)