June 11, 2019 / 4:34 AM / 7 days ago

METALS-Copper at near 2-week highs on hopes China imports could grow

(Adds analyst comments, milestones, and updates prices)

MANILA, June 11 (Reuters) - Prices for industrial metals were mostly higher in Asian trading on Tuesday, with copper prices hitting the highest in almost two weeks on expectations that China's appetite for the commodity could grow.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange rose as much as 0.8% to $5,921 a tonne, its highest since May 29, as it pulled away from a five-month low hit on June 7.

The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed as much as 1.5% to 46,900 yuan ($6,780.59) a tonne, also its highest since May 29.

China's Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN rose to $59 a tonne on Monday, a level not seen since mid-March, suggesting an increase in demand.

"Lower prices and recovery in Chinese physical premium should keep imports strong (in June)," ANZ said in a note.

Data on Monday showed China's unwrought copper imports fell 10.9% from the previous month to 361,000 tonnes in May, and were down 23.2% from 470,000 tonnes in May 2018.

"Yangshan's spot premium dropped to the lowest level (this year) in May. Looking ahead, as the premium has started to recover, we expect China's import appetite to recover again in June," said Helen Lau, a metals and mining analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

Broad focus in financial markets was on the festering trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

While U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was ready to impose more punitive tariffs on Chinese imports, Beijing said it is open for more trade talks with Washington.

Trump has said he is getting ready to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 Summit in Japan later this month, although China has yet to confirm any such meeting.

FUNDAMENTALS

* ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium was up 0.3%, pulling further away from a 29-month low hit on Monday, when an upswing in exports from top producer China fuelled worries about oversupply. Shanghai aluminium rose 0.5%.

* TIN: Shanghai tin gained as much as 1.3% to 145,520 yuan a tonne. Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd (MSC) is delaying shipments to customers, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

But MSC, one of the world's largest producers of refined tin, said in a statement that delivery of shipments to its customers were on schedule.

* PRICES: LME nickel gained 1%, while Shanghai nickel was up 0.3%; LME zinc rose 0.9% and Shanghai zinc edged up 0.2%.

* CHINA: China said on Monday that it would allow local governments to use proceeds from special bonds as capital for major investment projects, in a bid to support the slowing economy amid an escalating trade war with the United States.

* RUSAL: Russia's Rusal has told Reuters it plans to issue a Chinese yuan-denominated bond, known as a Panda bond, and also a rouble bond as the aluminium giant, which was removed from a U.S. sanctions list in early 2019, returns to raising funds.

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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 = 6.9168 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Joseph Radford and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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