Strike threat

Copper in New York gained after workers at BHP Billiton's Escondida mine in Chile turned down a wage proposal, threatening a stoppage at the world's largest copper mine. Metal for delivery in March climbed as much as 0.9 per cent to $US3.579 a pound on the Comex, and was at $US3.572 in Shanghai trading. Plant and mine-shift workers "unanimously" rejected the wage proposal at meetings on December 22, the union said on its website. The company can still propose a higher offer before compulsory negotiations are triggered, as the contract expires in July 2013, union official Marcelo Tapia said.

Cai Jie, an analyst at Essence Futures Co said, "Relatively tight global supply and a recovery in the Chinese economy have made me optimistic about copper prices in the first half."


Bonds boost

China might allow more types of bonds to be traded on stock exchanges in a bid to boost volumes on the bourses, the Shanghai Securities News reported. Government departments are considering the introduction of depositary receipts to allow debt currently tradeable only on China's interbank market to also be traded on exchanges, according to the report. Such a proposal might need approval from the State Council, China's cabinet, the newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. China's interbank market had 22.2 trillion yuan ($A3.4 trillion) of outstanding bonds at the end of November, according to ChinaBond, the nation's bond clearinghouse. That compared with 449 billion yuan on stock exchanges, where retail investors are allowed to trade, according to the clearinghouse.

The nation's securities regulator oversees bonds traded on the stock exchange.

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