April 27, 2020 / 10:56 AM / a month ago

METALS-Copper hits six-week high on hopes for demand revival

* LME aluminium stocks up 38% over past six weeks

* LME nickel hits highest since March 13 (Updates prices)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - Copper bounced to its highest in about six weeks on Monday as investors hoped that easing of lockdowns and factory restarts would revive metals demand hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Industrial metals prices rose along with stock markets, which also took heart from further stimulus measures announced by Japan.

The Bank of Japan pledged to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds, while in Europe top carmaker Volkswagen resumed work at its biggest factory in Wolfsburg, Germany.

"Chinese factories have been resuming operations and now we have some European plants also resuming operations, so if everything goes to plan and we have seen the peak of the lockdowns, we should have likewise seen the trough in metals demand," said analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer in Zurich.

But the risk remains that after lockdowns are lifted economies may be slow to recover or even that a second wave of infections could emerge, he added.

"I think there's a little more upside for the industrial metals, say between 5%-10%, but if you balance that with the big risk which is still out there in the market, I don't think the metals are very compelling from a risk-reward perspective."

Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose as much as 2.5% to $5,269 a tonne, its highest since March 17, before paring gains to $5,199 by 1700 GMT, a rise of 1.2%.

* ALUMINIUM STOCKS: LME aluminium inventories keep piling up, rising to 1,336,775 tonnes, the highest since Jan. 16 and up 38% over the past six weeks, LME data showed. MALSTX-TOTAL

LME aluminium shed 0.5% to $1,507.

* LEAD POSITION: The net speculative short position of LME lead has grown to 23% of open interest, the highest so far this year, according to estimates by broker Marex Spectron.

* CHINESE STOCKPILING: China's Yunnan province will set aside 1 billion yuan to help businesses stockpile 800,000 tonnes of base metals. China is the world's biggest consumer of metals and accounts for around half of global copper consumption.

* COPPER: Total imports of copper concentrate into China in March edged up 1.03% to 1.78 million tonnes year-on-year, as the country boosted imports from alternative sources amid a slump in shipments from top suppliers Peru and Chile.

* TRADE: China's nickel ore imports in March fell 42.3% to a 25-month low from a year ago.

* PRICES: LME nickel edged down 0.1% to $12,240 a tonne after touching $12,595, its strongest since March 13, zinc climbed 1.5% to $1,911, lead rose 1.4% to 1,639.50 and tin jumped 3.9% to a two-week high of $15,475.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Mark Potter and Lisa Shumaker)

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