London copper holds steady as Russia-Ukraine tensions ease

Feb 16 (Reuters) — London copper prices held steady on Wednesday on signs of easing Russia-Ukraine tensions, offsetting pressure from expectations of an aggressive interest rate hike by the U.S.central bank.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was little changed at $9,971 a tonne, as of 0325 GMT, while the most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.8% to 71,460 yuan ($11,269.87) a tonne.

On Tuesday, Russia said it was returning some troops to base after exercises, boosting sentiment in financial markets.

Meanwhile, data showed U.S.producer prices increased by the most in eight months in January in another sign of high inflation. Financial markets have priced in a better-than-even chance that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in March by half a percentage point.

FUNDAMENTALS

* LME aluminium rose 0.1% to $3,210 a tonne, nickel gained 0.4% to $23,390, lead eased 0.4% to $2,300 and zinc was up 0.2% at $3,588.

* ShFE harga pintu aluminium rose 0.1% to 22,595 yuan a tonne, nickel was up 0.9% at 173,260 yuan, zinc fell 0.4% to 25,025 yuan, lead eased 0.1% to 15,320 yuan and tin gained 1.3% to 332,610 yuan.

* Copper inventories <MCUSTX-TOTAL> in LME-approved warehouses have fallen to 70,125 tonnes, the lowest since November 2005.

* China’s January copper cathode output from major smelters fell 7.49% from the prior month due to maintenance and the holiday season, state-backed research house Antaike said on Tuesday.

* MMG Ltd plans to ramp up production to normal levels at its Las Bambas copper mine in Peru after a group of local communities agreed to a 45-day truce with the government.

* China’s factory-gate inflation cooled to its slowest pace in six months in January, official data showed on Wednesday, as government measures to control surging raw material costs weighed on producer prices.

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MARKETS NEWS

* The euro held on to overnight gains in early Asian trade on Wednesday having jumped on reports that some Russian forces had moved away from the Ukraine border, though, with tensions still elevated, the common currency failed to make further progress.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

0130 China PPI, CPI YY Jan

0700 UK CPI YY Jan

1330 US Retail Sales MM Jan

1415 US Industrial Production MM Jan

1900 US Federal Open Market Committee will

release the minutes from its Jan. 25-26 policy meeting ($1 = 6.3408 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)