US copper hits 2-week, over-looks China buying halt

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NEW YORK - U.S. copper futures climbed to a two-week high early Monday, as investors over-looked an overnight confirmation that China has halted its red metal purchases and bid the market up in line with equities.

Copper for September delivery HGU9 rose 3.90 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $2.3480 a lb by 10:10 a.m. EDT (1410 GMT) on the New York Mercantile Exchange's COMEX division.

Morning range from $2.2555 to $2.3570, a new high for the benchmark contract dating back to June 15.

COMEX estimated futures volume at 9,388 lots by 9 a.m.

Copper up in sympathy with slightly positive tone in U.S. equities amid growing optimism over the prospects of recovery in the global economy. [.N]

Market shrugs off confirmed report that China has stopped its strategic restocking phase - analysts.

Yu Dongming, an official at the metallurgical department of China's top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, confirmed the State Reserves Bureau had amassed a lower-than-expected, 235,000 tonnes of copper. [ID:nPEK124145]

Muted market response attributable to the fact that the end of China's buying program was perhaps priced in over the last few weeks - MF Global analyst, Edward Meir.

Sense of relief the government share of imports was not larger. Suggests many of the imported units were absorbed by state stimulus spending programs and the huge power investment boom going on - Meir.

COMEX copper up over 60 percent since the start of the year on the back of China's buying program and economic optimism, but have drifted recently as investors looked for signs to justify that optimism.

Market looking ahead to June payrolls report set for Thursday instead of Friday, due to the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

Additionally, the Conference Board's June consumer confidence report and the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index of June business activity in the U.S. Midwest are both set for release on Tuesday, and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) June reading on manufacturing on Wednesday.

London Metal Exchange warehouse stocks declined 2,950 tonnes to 267,300 tonnes on Monday.

COMEX copper stocks CMWSU went up 199 short tons to 59,795 short tons as of Friday.

COMEX copper net speculative short position grew to 21,735 lots in the week ended June 23, from 18,464 lots the previous week. Open interest fell to 109,536 contracts open during the week versus 115,321 contracts in the week of June 16. [ID:nN26347534]

Japan's exports of refined copper in May rose 152 percent from a year earlier to 60,678 tonnes, the eighth straight month of increases, helped by Chinese demand - data from the Ministry of Finance. [ID:nT164495]

LME copper for three-months delivery MCU3 was last at $5,150 a tonne, up $115 from Friday's close. (Reporting by Chris Kelly; Editing by John Picinich)

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