BEIJING, Feb 02, 2012 (Dow Jones) --Copper futures ended just higher on the Shanghai Futures Exchange Thursday, tracking firmer equities and overnight strength in London counterparts in the morning before retreating in the afternoon as market participants turned more cautious.
The most actively traded April copper contract settled 0.1% higher at CNY59,860 a metric ton.
"This past month's [copper rally] has more to do with the expectation of growing liquidity...In our view, it is too early to expect real demand for industrial metals to improve and rallies to be sustainable," Standard Bank analyst Marc Ground said.
Commerzbank speculated Wednesday that weaker U.S. economic data have "probably also increased the likelihood of a new round of monetary easing measures," supporting base metal prices.
Spot copper traded at the Changjiang Nonferrous Metals Trading Market, a major spot market in Shanghai, was quoted at CNY58,850-59,050/ton, down from CNY58,950-59,150/ton Wednesday.
London Metal Exchange base metals closed mostly higher Wednesday due to talk of an imminent Greek debt deal and relatively strong manufacturing data from around the world.
Three-month copper ended the afternoon kerb 1.4% higher at $8,439/ton.
The contract was quoted 0.1% lower at $8,427/ton around 0700 GMT, when the Shanghai market closed.
Lead and aluminum tracked copper upward Thursday. Zinc fell a bit.
Following are Thursday's settlement prices in yuan a metric ton and LME late kerb prices from Wednesday in dollars a ton:
Copper Apr 59,860 Up 50 3Mo 8,439 Up 119
Aluminum Apr 16,260 Up 15 3Mo 2,265 Up 28
Zinc Apr 15,875 Down 20 3Mo 2,131 Up 25
Lead Mar 16,080 Up 40 3Mo 2,234.5 Up 12.5