Copper prices held steady as better than forecast Chinese lending data was offset by signs that a supply squeeze in China was receding.
Aluminium meanwhile fell after a second day of large inflows of metal into London Metal Exchange warehouses.
‘For copper, on the macro side, the (Chinese) data was slightly better than expected, so that’s a positive,’ said Deutsche Bank analyst Nick Snowdon.
‘But on the physical side (there are) slightly softer signals in terms of Chinese import demand in the near term,’ he said.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed down 0.1 per cent at $US6,219 a tonne.
Copper has been locked between around $US6,100 and $US6,350 since late September.
Fears that a US-China trade dispute would weaken demand helped push prices to a 14-month low of $US5,773 in August.
Cash copper on the LME, which earlier this month was trading at the largest premium over the three-month contract since June 2016, is now trading at a discount of $US3, signalling a slackening of demand for nearby metal.
Analysts said that reflected a lessening of need for metal in China after a recent shortage.
Yangshan copper import premiums have also dipped from three-year highs.
China’s copper imports surged in September, which may have satisfied immediate demand, Deutsche’s Snowdon said.
LME aluminium ended down 0.6 per cent at $US2,022 a tonne after headline stocks in LME-registered warehouses surged from 926,100 tonnes to 1,082,600 tonnes in two days.
The inflows did not reflect a change in supply-demand fundamentals, said a person at a metals-trading bank in London.
‘This is a shuffle between on- and off-warrant stocks,’ he said.
Aluminium prices barely moved after Alcoa said on Wednesday it would close two aluminium plants in Spain with combined annual production of 180,000 tonnes.
Chinese banks extended 1.38 trillion yuan ($US199.25 billion) in net new yuan loans in September, more than analysts had expected and up from the previous month.
China has stepped up economic stimulus in recent months to counter any negative effect from a trade dispute with the United States.
In the latest steps, its central bank is increasingly expected to cut bank reserve requirements next year and its state planner approved a high-speed railway project worth 36.8 billion yuan ($US5.3 billion).
LME zinc finished up 2.3 per cent at $US2,665 a tonne, nickel closed down 1.8 per cent at $US12,375, lead slid 0.9 per cent to $US2,047 and tin ended down 0.7 per cent at $US19,075.