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Chinese outlook may keep lid on metal prices

By Michael Bellart (Global Times)

08:36, August 06, 2012

Chinese commodities prices are set to rise Monday after an unexpectedly high gain in the number of new jobs created last month in the US rallied the global financial markets Friday after the Chinese mainland markets closed.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that non-farm payrolls rose by 163,000 last month, breathing some optimism into the markets that had been trodden down Wednesday and Thursday by the inaction of the US and EU central banks.

The jobs report news rallied stock and commodities markets. The S&P 500 index rose 1.9 percent after the report was released Friday morning.

The benchmark three-month copper contract on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose 1.85 percent Friday to $7,425.20 per ton to cap off what had looked to be a disappointing week for the metal.

LME copper had fallen more than 3 percent for the week as of the market's close Thursday, its lowest point since June 22, according to Reuters.

Nymex West Texas Intermediate crude oil leapt 4.9 percent Friday, following a 2 percent drop Thursday.

Still, the euphoria over the surprising jobs report is unlikely to last beyond Monday, even for commodities sensitive to macroeconomic moves - such as copper and crude - as uncertainty continues to pervade the markets.

Reuters reported that open interests in LME copper languished near five-year lows last week, indicating a lack of certainty in the short-term direction of copper prices.

China, which consumes 40 percent of the world's copper, offered little in the way of direction, analysts said.

"The Chinese growth outlook appears riddled with risk, with soft investment growth likely to weigh on commodities demand over coming quarters. Taken together, metals demand is likely to remain restrained, which could keep prices at low levels in the near term," according to a research note from the National Australia Bank, as quoted by Reuters.

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