METALS-Copper holds steady as Chinese data sends mixed signals

(Updates throughout, adds LONDON dateline)

LONDON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Copper prices hit a 2-1/2 week high on Monday before falling back as economic data in top consumer China showed unexpectedly strong industrial output but weakness in the property sector.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.1% at $9,705.50 a tonne at 1215 GMT after reaching $9,773, the highest since Oct. 27.

Prices are up around 25% this year after rising 26% in 2020 but have lost momentum in recent months.

Fears of a slowdown in China are overblown with the government likely to act if needed to support growth, said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.

He said copper should rally strongly later in the decade as demand increases and supply runs short. "The copper market will head into a structural deficit in the next few years but not in the next few months," he said.

CHINA: China's industrial output and retail sales grew more quickly than expected in October, but the metals-intensive property sector posted poor performance as construction starts and investment by developers fall.

MARKETS: Global equities edged back towards record highs and the dollar held near a 16-month high, keeping dollar-priced metals expensive for buyers with other currencies. In China, the yuan weakened and stocks fell.

SQUEEZE: A supply squeeze in the LME warehouses system continued to ease, with the premium for cash copper over the three-month contract falling below $100 a tonne for the first time in a month.

On-warrant copper stocks in LME warehouses have risen to 50,300 tonnes from 14,150 tonnes last month but are still down from more than 200,000 tonnes in August.

CHINA OUTPUT: China's production of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel - was 5.26 million tonnes in October, up 0.5% from September but down 2.6% year-on-year, the statistics bureau said.

METALS PRICES: LME aluminium was down 0.7% at $2,682 a tonne, zinc fell 0.7% to $3,244.50, nickel lost 1.3% to $19,725, lead slipped 0.4% to $2,350 and tin was down 0.7% at $37,600.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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