June 10, 2019 / 10:40 AM / 9 days ago

METALS-Aluminium bounces after hitting 29-month low on China trade data

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates with closing prices)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) - Consumer buying and short-covering helped aluminium to bounce on Monday from its lowest since January 2017 after data showed an upswing in exports from top producer China, fuelling worries about oversupply.

Copper and some other industrial metals stabilised on the back of a U.S.-Mexico deal that averted new tariffs and raised hopes of an agreement with China.

China exported 536,000 tonnes of unwrought aluminium in May, up 7.6% from the previous month, while year-to-date shipments have climbed 12.4%.

“Aluminium took a hit after we had higher Chinese exports and the recent drop in energy prices also undermined it,” said Robin Bhar, head of metals research at Societe Generale in London.

Aluminium is the most energy-intensive base metal and Brent crude futures have shed about 10% in the past two weeks.

Traders said that industrial consumers and speculators buying to reverse bearish positions spurred the recovery.

Broker Marex Spectron said the net speculative short position for aluminium on the London Metal Exchange (LME) had expanded to 14% of open interest, according to its estimates.

Three-month LME aluminium rose 0.6% to $1,775 a tonne in closing open-outcry activity, having touched $1,752.50, the weakest level since Jan. 11, 2017.

* U.S.-MEXICO: The United States dropped its threat to impose tariffs on Mexico in a deal to combat illegal migration from Central America, helping to calm markets worried about the China-U.S. trade war.

* COPPER TRADE: The Mexico news boosetd LME copper, which gained 1.3% to $5,874 a tonne and seemed to shrug off data showing China’s May imports of the metal were down nearly 11% from the previous month.

“There was a slowdown in imports because there was a lot of supply in the Chinese spot market, and that resulted in the very low premium in the sense that there was no incentive for traders to import copper,” said Helen Lau, analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

* NYRSTAR SMELTER: LME lead jumped 3.1% to close at $1,889 a tonne after Nyrstar said its Port Pirie smelter in Australia would not reopen until the end of June.

Last Thursday lead touched a one-month high when Nyrstar said the smelter, one of the world’s largest for primary lead, had an unexpected outage and was likely to reopen within days.

* PRICES: LME zinc, untraded in closing rings, was bid down 0.4% at $2,475 a tonne while nickel was bid up 0.4% to $11,670 and tin added 0.1% to trade at $19,240.

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Additional reporting by Enrico dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Dale Hudson and David Goodman

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