NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Base metals may close lower Monday despite the positive Asian and European markets. Lower-than-expected growth in China's purchases and the improving dollar index may weigh heavily on base metal prices.Over the weekend, China said export growth came in strong at 43.9%, higher than the expected 38%, while import growth was 34.1%, lower than the anticipated 35.4%. This raises the current account surplus of China and renders the yuan undervalued, thereby raising international pressure to allow the currency to appreciate further. A group of European banks are considering setting up a €20 billion fund that could bail out financial institutions, as cited by one of the bank's heads. This should buoy market sentiment. Most of the Asian equity markets rose Monday and U.S. equity markets closed positive on Friday. Positive sentiment in the markets and the upward momentum in the world economy may limit declines in base metal prices during the day's trading session. Mining giants BHP Billiton ( BHP) and Rio Tinto ( RTP) were trading down 0.7% and 1.0%, respectively, in London. On Friday, base metals ended marginally in the green riding on buyouts in the equity markets and a strong euro. In the context of the German economy, CPI for June was in line with the expectation of 0.1%. U.S. wholesale inventories for May came in at 0.5% against the expectation of 0.4%, given the slight deviation and the data coming with a higher lag. Copper Copper for delivery within three months lost 1.2% to hover at $6,678 per metric ton in early trading hours on the London Metals Exchange. China's copper and copper product imports in June were 328,231 metric tons, according to China's Customs Authority. June imports were 17% less than a month ago and 31% lower than a year ago. This unexpected decline in China's copper imports will lead to a bearish momentum in copper prices in the short term. Aluminum Aluminum for delivery within three months declined 0.6% to $1,982 per metric ton during early trading on the LME. Aluminum faces stiff resistance at $2,003 and $2,008, and support at $1,984.
Alcoa ( AA), the largest U.S. aluminum producer, is scheduled to release its financial results after markets close on Monday. Management guidance for 2010 will likely direct the metal prices in the next trading session. Nickel for delivery within three months shed 1.2% to $19,260 per metric ton during early trading on the LME. Inventories declined marginally to 120,660 tons from 121,326 tons. Zinc for delivery within three months plunged 2.8% to $1,850 per metric ton during early trading on the LME due to sluggish demand and profit-booking by speculators. In addition, Xstrata plans to start construction of the Bracemac-McLeod zinc mine in Canada that will likely aggravate the oversupply situation in zinc.