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London copper steady on caution over U.S. situation

SINGAPORE -- London copper was little changed on Tuesday as China returned from a week-long holiday, with traders cautious over the U.S. fiscal standoff that has eroded risk appetite and tarnished demand expectations for the metal.

Copper prices have been trapped in a $7,000-$7,500 range since early August. Demand from copper product makers in China is heating up on pre-Christmas orders but the market is amply supplied. Risk aversion is also tainting investment demand for the metal, traders and analysts said.

"There are concerns about the negative impact on the U.S. economy if things go pear-shaped, so people are pulling some risk off the table," said analyst Tim Radford at Sydney-based adviser Rivkin.

"If we see any form of resolution to the partial government shutdown ... in the next week, then I think that will be a big upside catalyst for most markets -- including metals," he added.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was trading at $7,241 a tonne (2,204.6 U.S. lbs) by 0156 GMT, from the previous session when it finished little changed. Prices are down more than 8 percent for the year.

The most-traded January copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slipped 0.34 percent to 52,390 yuan ($8,600) a tonne.

Elsewhere, the annual metals industry week continues in London this week.

Aurubis, Europe's biggest copper smelter, expects annual term treatment and refining charges for Europe in 2014 to be agreed at around $95 per tonne and 9.5 cents per pound, Aurubis Chief Executive Peter Willbrandt said on Monday.

Copper products maker KME Group, a unit of Italy's Intek Group SpA, will insist on passing on rising copper premium costs when it negotiates 2014 supply deals with clients this quarter, it said on Monday.