NEW YORK - U.S. copper futures closed down on Thursday, as prices extended a phase of consolidation below the $3.00 a lb level and fell under the weight of renewed concerns about near-term demand prospects, analysts said.
* Copper for December delivery HGZ9 shed 4.75 cents to settle at $2.8765 a lb on the New York Mercantile Exchange's COMEX division.
* Ranged from $2.8325 to $2.9565.
* Benchmark December contract hit an 11-month high at $2.9895 on Aug. 28.
* Copper market still in a technical uptrend. Settlement under $2.79 nullifies copper's current bullish outlook - Ralph Preston, futures analyst with HeritageWestFutures.com in San Diego, California.
* COMEX estimated copper volume at 23,669 lots by 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). Final volume on Wednesday hit 22,228 lots.
* Open interest up 1,690 lots to 119,838 contracts open as of Sept. 9.
* Copper ultimately pulled down by demand concerns tied to rising inventory levels in London and moderating import activity in China - Bart Melek, Global Commodity Strategist with BMO Nesbitt Burns in Toronto.
* London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouse stocks added another 775 tonnes to 317,575 tonnes.
* London stockpiles are up nearly 25 percent since early July, highlighting the lack of real demand.
* COMEX copper warehouse stocks fell by 826 short tons to 52,754 short tons on Wednesday.
* Chinese copper imports likely to be down for the second consecutive month in August.
* Steadier tone in U.S. dollar fails to give dollar-denominated copper direction.
* U.S. data showed initial and continued jobless claims down last week.
* From China, data showed investment growth in the country's real estate sector accelerated sharply in August while prices and sales continued to rise.
* Investment bank Calyon upped its forecasts for industrial metals prices due to improved economic outlook and growing demand recovery beyond China.
* Zambia, Africa's largest copper producer, raised its 2009 copper output to 664,000 tonnes versus a previous estimates of 600,000 tonnes.
* LME copper for three-months delivery MCU3 settled down $121 at $6,294 a tonne. (Reporting by Chris Kelly; Editing by Marguerita Choy)