METALS-Aluminium hits near 15-month low on slowing China factory growth
* Nickel hits lowest since mid-Dec
* Zinc, lead at lowest in weeks (Adds closing prices)
By Maytaal Angel
LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Aluminium fell near a 15-month low on Wednesday, clocking up a 5 percent loss on the month, after data showed China’s manufacturing sector grew at its slowest pace since July 2016 and concerns lingered about excess Chinese supply.
Other metals also pulled back, with nickel hitting multi-month lows and zinc and lead dropping to their lowest in weeks.
The slowdown in Chinese factory growth in October coincides with escalating Sino-U.S. trade tensions that have raised fears over growth in the world’s second largest economy and top metals consumer.
The dollar scaled 16-month highs against a currency basket on the back of further strong U.S. economic data, heading for its biggest monthly winning streak in more than three years. A strong dollar makes dollar-priced metals more expensive for non-U.S. investors.
“Aluminium’s fundamentals are weaker than other base metals like copper. There’s structural oversupply in the Chinese market and the fear of more (tariffs) from the United States is not helpful,” said Sergey Raevskiy, metals analyst at SP Angel.
PRICES: Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange ended down 0.7 percent at $1,953.50, after touching a trough of $1,953. Nickel ended down 2.5 percent at $11,475, its lowest since mid-December.
Bellwether copper closed down 0.7 percent at $5,992.
* COPPER TECHNICALS: “A glance at speculative positioning reveals that there is still further downside potential. Though speculative net long positions in copper on the LME fell last week, they ultimately remain firmly positive,” Commerzbank said in a note.
* NICKEL SUPPLY: Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, one of the world’s largest nickel producers, said its consolidated nickel production was at 53,739 tonnes in the third quarter of 2018, up 9 percent quarter-on-quarter.
* For a column on nickel click:
* CHINA’S YUAN: As China’s yuan approaches the 7 to the dollar barrier, investors are betting authorities will eventually let the currency fall beyond the historic level, but won’t allow the kind of capitulation seen in past market meltdowns.
* CHINA POLLUTION: Three cities in China’s top steelmaking province of Hebei have issued second-level or ‘orange’ pollution alerts, forcing industrial plants to cut output.
* VEDANTA: Indian miner Vedanta reported a 34 percent fall in second-quarter net profit, hit by lower revenue from its zinc operations, rising costs and the shutdown of a smelter in southern India.
* LEAD INVENTORIES: LME data showed on-warrant or available lead stocks at their highest since November 2017.
* OTHER PRICES: Lead closed down 0.8 percent at $1,924, having hit a trough of $1,886, zinc closed down 2.2 percent at $2,493, having hit a trough of $2,485.50, while tin closed up 0.1 percent at $19,100.