BEIJING, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Copper prices were flat on Tuesday amid a persistent weak dollar, even as official data showed top producer China churned out a record volume of refined
copper in December, suggesting the world's biggest copper consumer is well supplied. A weak dollar makes metals cheaper for holders of other
currencies and supports prices, and the greenback's dive as a result of the U.S. government shutdown had seen copper climbing
0.4 percent on Monday. "We think recent copper price rebound is mostly driven by dollar weakness," Argonaut Securities wrote in a note. "Any
dollar weakness reversal may weigh down on copper prices, in our view." While China's refined copper output hit an all-time high in
December, Argonaut noted that unwrought copper imports fell by 5 percent in 2017. "The reduced import appetite reflects China's sluggish
copper demand, especially in the power sector," it added. FUNDAMENTALS: * LME COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal
Exchange was flat at $7,067 a tonne by 0510 GMT, having gained 0.4 percent in the previous session. * SHFE COPPER: The most-traded March copper contract on the
Shanghai Futures Exchange was also unchanged at 53,600 yuan ($8,377.62) a tonne. * USD: The dollar index was steady, with the currency
remaining near three-year lows after a short-lived rally following the deal to re-open the U.S. government. * CHINA: China's refined copper output jumped by 16.7
percent year-on-year to a record high in December, as smelters looked to churn out as much metal as possible ahead of a fall in
treatment charges for copper concentrate. * SCRAP: China's imports of scrap copper fell 19.8 percent in December from a year earlier, customs data showed on Tuesday,
as the country continues a clampdown on taking foreign waste. * OTHER METALS: Aluminium and nickel were hardest hit in a broad-based metals sell-off on Tuesday,
slipping 0.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. * ALUMINIUM: China's central Henan province churned out more aluminium than neighbouring Shandong in 2017 for the first time
in years, becoming the nation's top-producing region. * MONGOLIA: Global miner Rio Tinto, will set up a new office in the Mongolian capital, separate from its
giant Oyu Tolgoi project, to focus on exploration and local ties, strengthening its commitment to one of the world's greatest copper prospects.
* CRYPTOCURRENCIES: Swiss-based commodities fund TiberiusGroup plans to make a foray into cryptocurrencies with the launch of what may be the first digital money underpinned by
physically deliverable metals including industrials such as aluminium and copper.
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