LME metals fall, except tin

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    Copper and aluminium have fallen to one-month lows while zinc has hit its weakest level in more than five years on worries about upcoming data that may show weak industrial activity in top metals consumer China.

    Data on Thursday is likely to show that China's factory sector shrank for the second month in a row in September, according to a Reuters poll.

    "The market is looking for direction and probably the most likely source of that is Chinese data," said Caroline Bain, senior commodities economist at Capital Economics in London.

    "We've had quite a bit of stimulus already and it hasn't yet been reflected in any sort of rebound in activity. We're going to need some improvement in data before we have any rebound in prices."

    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange hit $US4,925 a tonne, the weakest since August 26. It ended down 1.2 per cent at $US4,965 a tonne. Copper prices hit six-year lows of $US4,855 in August.

    Shanghai Futures Exchange copper slid by 1.5 per cent to 38,310 yuan ($US6,016.02) a tonne. The ShFE will close for a week starting October 1 for China's mid-autumn festival.

    The absence of the world's biggest metals user from Thursday, a rash of third-quarter US earnings reports expected to show companies are struggling plus a strong US dollar may further weigh on prices.

    "Some of this is undoubtedly on the back of what we're seeing in mining equities especially in Glencore and Alcoa (stocks)," said Mitsui Bussan analyst Justin Lennon.

    Worries about commodity prices swept through global equity markets on Monday following an 8.8 per cent drop in Chinese industrial firms' profits and a 30 per cent plunge miner Glencore's London-traded stocks.

    Aluminium hit $US1,541.50 - the lowest in a month. It ended down one per cent at $US1,551. Broker Triland said in a note prices look set to test new lows.

    "Aluminium... remains stuck in a classic bear market with the whole range of commodity assets near or at multi-year lows."

    Zinc hit $US1,601.50, the weakest since June 2010. It ended down 0.2 per cent at $US1,630.

    Lead, the best performer this year among LME base metals, closed down 0.5 per cent at $US1,657, having hit a month low of $US1,636.

    "With mine output continuing to be stifled and stocks relatively low, we think that lead prices should be fairly well supported into year-end, allowing for an average of about $US1,800/t in Q4," analyst Vivienne Lloyd at Macquarie said in a note.

    Nickel closed down 1.1 per cent at $US9,870, while tin ended up 3.6 per cent at $US15,650 having hit a one week high of $US15,075. LME tin stocks fell 200 tonnes to 4,900 tonnes at latest count - their lowest level since December 2008.

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