NEW YORK - U.S. copper futures fell before steadying at slightly lower levels Thursday morning, under pressure from a steadier dollar and down even as latest labor, housing and manufacturing data provided further evidence of recovery.
* Copper for December delivery HGZ9 dipped 1.20 cents to $2.9245 a lb by 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on the New York Mercantile Exchange's COMEX division.
* Range from $2.8870 to $2.9550.
* COMEX estimated copper volume at 7,919 lots by 9 a.m.
* Copper prices influenced by early fluctuations in the dollar versus a basket of currencies .DXY - traders.
* Copper's early losses buck upbeat data showing initial state jobless benefit claims down slightly in the latest week and U.S. housing starts and building permits in August up at their highest level since November.
* A separate report showed factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region up in September at its highest level since June 2007.
* The global copper market was in a deficit of 153,000 tonnes in the January to July period, compared with a deficit of 100,000 tonnes in the same period in 2008 - World Bureau of Metal Statistics.
* Rising inventory levels reflect weaker demand prospects amid moderating Chinese imports - analysts.
* London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouse stocks went up 1,150 tonnes to 324,375 tonnes on Thursday.
* Weekly Shanghai copper stocks expected to be flat to slightly lower when data is released on Friday.
* COMEX copper warehouse stocks dipped 36 short tons to 52,938 short tons as of Wednesday. CMWSV
* Japan's August copper wire and cable shipments estimated at 50,100 tonnes, marking the 11th straight month of year-on-year declines. Fiscal year 2009/10 estimated at a 38-year low at 648,000 tonnes - data provided by the Japanese Electric Wire and Cable Makers' Association.
* LME copper for three-months delivery MCU3 last traded at $6,407 a tonne, down a shade from Wednesday's kerb close at $6,415. (Reporting by Chris Kelly; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)