MTECHTIPS;-Copper prices up slightly in Asia as strike threat hits

MTECHTIPS;-Copper prices up slightly in Asia as strike threat hits Chile mine

MTECHTIPS- Copper prices edged up in Asia on Wednesday as a strike threat loomed over a major copper mine in Chile, while gold slipped in quiet trade. Australia miner BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) also fell nearly 1% after reports said the miner planned to halt production at the Escondida copper mine in Chile, said to be the world’s largest, due to a workers’ strike on Thursday. Reuters reported that BHP said it could not guarantee the safety of the 80 workers the Chilean government had authorized to remain at the Escondida mine to perform “critical duties” like equipment upkeep and adherence to environmental protocols. On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange copper futures rose 0.08% to $2.639 a pount, barely reacting to the strike plans. Overnight, investors were largely focused on French politics, as far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen launched her presidential bid over the weekend, vowing to fight globalization and take France out of the euro zone. Apart from France, market players also have to factor in elections in other parts of the European Union this year. Dutch elections are in March followed by Germany in September. In Italy, another presidential election looms, even as former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi said he was willing to shelve his push for early voting.