By Mai Nguyen
SINGAPORE, April 24 (Reuters) - Most base metals prices in London fell on Friday, as risk appetite weakened amid prospects of lean demand and on reports that an experimental drug to treat the coronavirus showed inconclusive results.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.8% at $5,120 a tonne, as of 0703 GMT, and on track for its first weekly decline in four weeks.
Aluminium eased 0.2% to $1,507.50 a tonne, nickel was down 0.1% to $12,160 a tonne, while zinc rose 0.4% to $1,880.50 a tonne.
A closely watched Gilead Sciences Inc experimental antiviral drug failed to help patients with severe COVID-19 in a clinical trial conducted in China, but the firm said the findings were inconclusive as the study was terminated early.
Asian shares and U.S. stock futures dropped after the news about the experiment in China and on new evidence of U.S. economic damage caused by the pandemic.
Copper is often used as a gauge of global economic health, and China accounts for about half of the global copper consumption.
The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) edged up 0.2% at 41,780 yuan ($5,902.38) a tonne, tracking overnight gains in London, while aluminium fell 0.2% to 12,285 yuan a tonne and zinc declined 0.03% to 15,825 yuan a tonne.
China's central bank cut the interest rate on its targeted medium-term lending facility on Friday to help support the economy, but failed to lift metals prices.
The global economy will suffer its steepest contraction on record this year with a likely U-shaped recovery, while China's economy is slowly recovering but could still face a recession if conditions worsen again from the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters polls showed.
The speculative net short positions in ShFE copper rose for a third consecutive session on Thursday, reaching 25.7% of open interest and up from 23.9% in the previous session, latest data by Marex Spectron showed.
Copper prices were pressured further by news that miner MMG Ltd could restart copper concentrate shipments from the site of its Las Bambas operations in Peru to the port "as soon as next week", after the firm declared force majeure at the mine amid national restrictions measures to combat COVID-19.
* ALUMINIUM: Banks' diminishing appetite to lend due to the coronavirus crisis will keep prices under pressure amid a ballooning surplus.
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$1 = 7.0785 Chinese yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sherry Jacob-Phillips