LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Nickel hit a one-month low on Thursday, while copper and lead prices were also in the red, as investors worried about Chinese growth and higher U.S. interest rates. Tin gained, however, as some of the metal was suspended from trading in top exporter Indonesia. Macroeconomic concerns continued to bedevil the industrial metals sector, even though many of the metals showed signs of supply tightness, said Warren Patterson, commodities strategist at ING Bank in Amsterdam. “Generally the base metals complex is under pressure from outside influences, such as the Fed comments, which were pretty hawkish,” he said, referring to the U.S. central bank. Federal Reserve policymakers are largely united on the need to raise borrowing costs further, minutes from their September policy meeting showed, while Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China’s economy faced increasing downward pressure, ahead of GDP data due on Friday. “I continue to believe that copper is looking fairly cheap … but as long as we’ve got this stronger dollar and the threat of further tariffs on Chinese goods, the speculators are looking at avoiding copper altogether,” Patterson added. Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange was down 1.1 percent at $12,240 a tonne by 1410 GMT, the lowest since Sept. 18.
LME copper slipped 1.3 percent to a bid of $6,141 a tonne, a one-week low.
* COPPER PREMIUM: The Chinese copper premium for physical material dipped to $117.50 a tonne from $120.
* STEEL FUTURES: Also weighing on nickel, mainly used in stainless steel, was a fall of more than 1 percent in Chinese rebar steel futures.
* NICKEL PIG IRON: Another negative factor for nickel was a report about rising output of NPI, a lower-nickel-content substitute for refined nickel often used in stainless steel.
“China’s NPI output has (reportedly) climbed to the highest daily rate in over 4 years in Sept at 43,400 tonnes of contained metal,” Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.
* INDONESIA TIN: Tin prices received a fillip from news that the Indonesia Commodity & Derivatives Exchange has suspended trading of tin ingots and tin ore with origin verified by PT. Surveyor Indonesia.
LME tin was the only metal in positive territory, rising 0.3 percent at $19,130 a tonne.
* ZINC STOCKS: On-warrant LME zinc stocks, those not earmarked for delivery, tumbled 23 percent to 105,400 tonnes, the lowest since February.
LME zinc pushed into positive territory after the stocks data was released but later gave up the gains and was down 0.5 percent at $2,652 a tonne.
* ALUMINIUM TECHNICALS: LME aluminium gave up 0.5 percent to $2,012 a tonne.
“Although the technical set-up looks weak, only a definite close below $2,013/$2,010 would mean an extended correction towards multi-months lows of $2,001/$1,998 and perhaps even $1,977,” Stephanie Aymes, head of technical analysis at Societe Generale, said in a note.
* LEAD: LME lead slid 2.2 percent to $2,002 a tonne.