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LME copper prices slip in official trading on US jobs concerns

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Copper prices slipped in official trading on the London Metal Exchange on Wednesday May 2 after data indicated a slowdown in US employment growth.

Preliminary data from ADP Employer Services showed 119,000 jobs were added in April, below expectations and down from 201,000 in the previous month. The data comes ahead of official non-farm employment numbers due out on Friday.

Three-month copper prices settled at $8,328/29 per tonne, down from $8,376/77 per tonne a day earlier.

The contract posted an intraday low of $8,285 per tonne after the official session, down 1.5% from its opening level as the market awaited the publication of US factory orders data.

"All eyes will be on today's factory orders out of the US as it will allow traders to gauge demand at the source, followed by Friday's non-farm payroll numbers, which are a barometer of the US economy," a broker said in a note.

Copper stocks in LME-listed warehouses stood at 238,950 tonnes, down 2,600 tonnes after deliveries out of several US stores.

There was continued broker and analyst commentary in the lead market on Wednesday after recent warrant cancellations at several locations in Europe, leading to speculation that a large position holder may be orchestrating a squeeze.

There were 361,000 tonnes of lead in LME warehouses, nearly a quarter of which has been cancelled. The large majority of cancellations have come in Europe over the past few days, leading to speculation that a shortage there will lift physical premiums and tighten LME spreads.

Three-month lead prices were $2,149/50 per tonne in the official session, in a $6/6.5 contango against the cash contract, though tightness is emerging in contracts for June delivery.

The cancellations have caught many commentators off-guard as weak conditions prevail in the European lead market.

"It is extremely doubtful that the likes of Seat, Fiat and Alfa Romeo are having a stellar year, implying that the metal is being cancelled in preparation to be moved to a different warehouse location, most likely as part of a financing trade," an analyst said in a note.

Lead prices were marginally below their previous official level on Wednesday, tracking small losses across all metals with the exception of aluminium.

Three-month aluminium settled at $2,107.50/08 per tonne, up from $2,097.50/98 a day earlier.

Aluminium stocks in LME-listed locations totalled 5,015,500 tonnes, up 1,000 tonnes after a 10,000-tonne delivery into Vlissingen, and outflows at other locations including Detroit and Baltimore.

Mark Burton 
mburton@metalbulletin.com
Twitter: @mburtonmb

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