Base metals on the London Metal Exchange (LME have) closed mostly lower after the group pared overnight gains early in the session, with a lower euro on the day weighing prices toward the close.

At the close of open-outcry trading, LME three-month copper was 1.1 per cent lower on the day at $US7,960 a metric ton, falling below the psychological $US8,000/ton level.

Nickel once again led declines in a bearish week for the metal, closing 1.2 per cent lower at $US17,165/ton.

The euro turned negative against the US dollar fairly early in the European session, damping the comparative buying appeal of the US dollar-denominated LME metals to holders of Europe's common currency.

"In the last two days, selling has entered the market around the US opening," noted Sucden Financial analysts.

"Copper dropped below $8,000/ton but the market absorbed the selling relatively well. The same can also be said for the rest of the complex apart from nickel," they added, also noting poor US housing starts data did not help the bearish tone.

Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate noted that nickel's price had fallen below its 100-day moving average, usually a technical level of support for metal prices.

"Interestingly, (nickel trading) turnover has been very good and looks on track to exceed lead's daily turnover for the third day in a row," said Westgate.

"Given the increase in activity, and the price weakness, it looks like some of that (nickel) length may have been liquidated. However, we would need to look at open interest figures later this week in order to get confirmation of this," he added.

Analysts at Aurubis meanwhile said that copper product markets remain influenced by the generally weak global economic situation.

"Demand for rod and continuous cast products may be slightly better in the first quarter of 2013, as customers are expecting their business activities to expand after the seasonal weakness of the previous quarter," they said.

Copper tends to be regarded as an economic bellwether due to its industrial and infrastructural applications.

Some analysts said that Chinese demand is still struggling to gain traction following last week's lull during the Lunar New Year public holiday.

Prices in dollar a metric ton.

3 Months Metal Bid-Ask Change from

Tuesday PM kerb

Copper 7960.0-7962.0 Dn 90

Lead 2350.0-2350.5 Dn 25

Zinc 2133.0-2133.5 Dn 21.5

Aluminum 2103.0-2104.0 Dn 7

Nickel 17165.0-17170.0 Dn 215

Tin 23725.0-23730.0 Dn 185

Aluminum Alloy 1925.0-1930.0 Dn 5

Aluminum Alloy-NASAAC 1930.0-1940.0 Dn 25


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