January 2, 2018 / 1:51 AM / 6 months ago

METALS-LME copper starts 2018 firmer on strong China demand

SYDNEY, Jan 2 (Reuters) - London copper was pushed higher on Tuesday on bets that demand in top consumer China will improve in 2018, keeping prices near four-year highs at the start of trading in the new year.

China is the world's largest consumer of industrial metals and accounts for nearly half of global copper demand. The metal has been supported by Beijing's attack on polluting industries, supply reforms and robust demand growth.

FUNDAMENTALS

* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange climbed 0.3 percent to $7,267.50 a tonne by 0113 GMT. The contract ended 2017 with an annual 31 percent price gain, reaching prices last seen in January 2014 after peaking at $7,312.50 on Dec. 28, according to Reuters data.

* SHFE: The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was trading 0.3 percent lower at 55,430 yuan ($8,519) a tonne

* COPPER TREATMENT CUT: China's copper smelters on Friday lowered the floor for their treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) in the first quarter of 2018 by 8.4 percent, signalling tighter supply of copper concentrate in the first three months of the New Year.

* ALUMINIUM REFINERY GO-AHEAD: Guinea's government has approved a more than $2.8 billion investment by Chinese company TBEA Co Ltd in a new bauxite mine, an aluminium refinery and an aluminium smelter, the mines ministry said on Friday.

* SAFETY WARNING: Shanghai has issued a warning on the safety of metal products manufactured by scandal-hit Japanese firm Kobe Steel Ltd and strengthened scrutiny measures, state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the city's inspection body.

OTHER METALS: With the exception of lead, the remainder of active ShFE base metals contracts were firmer, led by nickel, up nearly 2 percent, with aluminium up 1.2 percent and tin rising 1.3 percent. Zinc was 1 percent higher.

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MARKETS NEWS

* The euro stood within striking distance of its 2017 peak on an ailing U.S. dollar on Tuesday, while Asian stocks began the new year close to their highest in a decade.

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

ARBS ($1 = 6.5063 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by James Regan; editing by Richard Pullin

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