July 23, 2020 / 11:22 AM / 16 days ago

METALS-Copper rises as stockpiles dwindle and the dollar weakens

(Updates prices)

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) - Copper prices rose on Thursday as available stockpiles in London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses tumbled and a spike in the cost of metal for immediate delivery pointed to a tightening market.

The dollar also slid to its weakest in nearly two years, making metals cheaper for buyers outside the United States.

Benchmark copper on the LME was up 0.8% at $6,534.50 a tonne at 1600 GMT, pushing towards last week's two-year high of $6,633.

The metal has rebounded from a low of $4,371 in March as the coronavirus spread, and Chinese efforts to stimulate their economy by building metals-intensive infrastructure will support prices, said Capital Economics analyst Kieran Clancy.

"The general trajectory over the next 18 months is an upwards one," he said.

STOCKS: On-warrant copper inventories in LME-registered warehouses fell to 55,950 tonnes from about 250,000 tonnes in mid-May. MCUSTX-TOTAL

SPREAD: The premium for LME cash copper over three-month metal jumped to a 16-month high of $24.50 a tonne from a $30 discount in May. A premium signals tighter nearby supply. MCU0-3

CHILE: Miner Antofagasta and workers at its Zaldivar mine decided to extend government-mediated talks for a new union contract and avoid a strike.

COLUMN: A perfect storm in scrap is copper's hidden bull driver, writes Andy Home.

TESLA/NICKEL: Elon Musk, boss of electric car maker Tesla, has urged miners to produce more nickel for batteries.

ALUMINIUM: China's June aluminium imports surged by more than 490% year on year to an 11-year high of 288,783 tonnes as traders took advantage of lower prices abroad.

Citi raised its aluminium price forecasts to $1,900 a tonne in 2021 and $2,000 a tonne in 2022.

ECONOMY: Surveys showed growing consumer and business confidence in France and Germany, but South Korea plunged into recession in the second quarter.

OTHER PRICES: LME aluminium was up 0.8% at $1,705 a tonne, zinc rose 1.1% to $2,237, nickel gained 4.1% to $13,670, lead added 1.2% to $1,826.50 and tin was up 1.5% at $17,850.

Reporting by Peter Hobson Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen Editing by David Goodman and Jane Merriman

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