(Updates prices, adds details)
Aug 26 (Reuters) - Copper prices rose on Wednesday on optimism over progress in U.S.-China trade talks and signs that researchers might be closer to a treatment for the coronavirus.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange gained 0.3% to $6,545 a tonne by 0703 GMT, while the most-traded October copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended up 0.3% at 51,440 yuan ($7,457.13) a tonne.
British drugmaker AstraZeneca has begun trials of its antibody-based drug for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, the latest development in a global race to combat the pandemic.
Top U.S. and Chinese trade officials reaffirmed their commitment to a Phase 1 trade deal, which has seen China lagging on its obligations to buy American goods.
“The general feel is that trade talks went smoothly. Vaccine news is encouraging. Copper stocks are below 100,000 tonnes in the LME warehouses, while the U.S. dollar has resumed its downward trend,” a Singapore-based metals trader said.
A weaker U.S. dollar makes greenback-priced LME metals cheaper to buyers holding other currencies.
* LME copper inventories MCUSTX-TOTAL fell to 95,525 tonnes, their lowest since July 2006, pushing the tom-next spread MCUT-0=LX to a $10-a-tonne premium, a level unseen since December, indicating tight nearby supplies.
* A tailwind for zinc demand from booming Chinese steel production has pushed prices of the galvanising metal to their highest in more than nine months, yet data such as warehouse stock levels suggest further significant gains are unlikely.
* Mining operations at Indonesia’s Grasberg mine, operated by a unit of Freeport-McMoran Inc, have been disrupted as workers protests over coronavirus restrictions extended into a third day.
* LME nickel rose 1% to $15,125 a tonne while ShFE nickel jumped 2.1% to 119,680 yuan a tonne.
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$1 = 6.8981 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Amy Caren Daniel
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