May 11, 2020 / 7:20 AM / 21 days ago

METALS-London copper hits 8-week high as countries ease restrictions

(Updates prices)

By Mai Nguyen

SINGAPORE, May 11 (Reuters) - London copper hit its highest level in eight weeks on Monday on hopes of better demand for metals as certain countries started to ease lockdowns that were enforced to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Australia, France and Spain are slowly opening their economies, while the United Kingdom - which has the second-highest virus death toll in the world - introduced some limited easing of restrictions.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose as much as 1.8% to $5,370 a tonne, its highest level since March 16, before easing slightly to trade 0.8% higher at $5,315 a tonne by 0707 GMT.

The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) closed up 0.4% to 43,500 yuan ($6,144.24) a tonne.

However, analysts said copper prices would remain pressured for the rest of the year given the risks of a second wave of infections in some countries, including China, the world’s biggest consumer of the red metal.

“If there is no follow through buying from Europe and the United States, it could well mean a fall back from these levels,” said Malcolm Freeman, a director at Kingdom Futures.

The head of the International Monetary Fund on Friday signaled a possible downward revision of global economic forecasts.

Fitch Solutions saw a surplus of 344,000 tonnes of copper globally this year and another surplus of 162,000 tonnes in 2021, compared with a deficit of 63,000 tonnes in 2019, it said in a note.

LME aluminium rose 0.4% to $1,491 a tonne and zinc climbed 0.9% to $2,022 a tonne.

ShFE aluminium rallied 1.1% to 12,535 yuan a tonne, nickel eased 0.2% to 101,610 yuan a tonne while tin climbed 1.2% to 131,130 yuan a tonne.

FUNDAMENTALS

* CHINA: China’s central bank said it lowered interest rates on its standing lending facility in April.

* CHINA AUTOS: Automakers’ sales in China, the world’s biggest car market, showed signs of a recovery in April.

* NICKEL: ShFE will allow delivery of nickel briquettes against its futures contracts in response to rising demand for other forms of nickel, notably for electric vehicles.

* CHINA ZINC: China’s zinc and zinc alloy output rose 3.5% in April from March to 412,000 tonnes, research house Antaike data showed.

* INDONESIA TIN: Indonesia exported 4,220.59 tonnes of refined tin in April, down 28% year-on-year, official data showed.

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$1 = 7.0798 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Devika Syamnath AND Rashmi Aich

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