May 4, 2018 / 4:26 PM / 5 months ago

METALS--Base metals rally, zinc recovers after hitting 9-month low

* LME/ShFE arb: bit.ly/2wZSAEz

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Adds official midday prices, details)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, May 4 (Reuters) - Base metals rallied on Friday as disappointing U.S. employment data was not enough to change investors' overall bullish view of the U.S. economy, and after China reported some progress in trade talks with the United States.

Aluminium hit its highest in nearly two weeks at $2,367.50 after Russia's Rusal, the world's No.2 aluminium producer, saw exports fall 70 percent in April from March. The U.S. slapped sanctions on Rusal last month.

Zinc, which earlier touched a nine-month low of$2,970 as investors bet the global market deficit would narrow this year, got swept up in the return of risk appetite, ending up 1.6 percent at $3,055 a tonne.

"What is happening between the U.S. and China with regard to trade will be a prominent short-term price driver, but as long as the two sides keep talking, that should be construed as an overall positive for the general commodity group," INTL FC Stone said in a note.

On zinc, Bank of China International analyst Xiao Fu said: "We see prices drifting. Zinc is still tight but the deficit is shrinking." She added however that prices would remain underpinned thanks to the still hefty deficit.

PAYROLLS: The U.S. economy added a fewer than expected 164,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent. However, wages edged up only 0.1 percent, easing concerns that inflation pressures were increasing.

CHINA-U.S. TRADE: China has offered to buy more U.S. goods and lower tariffs on some items, including cars, Reuters reported after Xinhua news agency said the talks had made progress on some aspects, though disagreements over other issues lingered.

ALUMINIUM: Aluminium ended up 3.6 percent at $2,350 a tonne. The metal closed the week up nearly 6 percent after falling almost 10 percent last week.

CHINA DATA: A flurry of Chinese data in coming weeks is expected to show the world's second-largest economy remained strong in April, underpinned by strong industrial output and exports despite rising trade tensions with the United States.

SCRAP: The company in charge of inspecting scrap metal shipments from the United States bound for China said it would suspend checks on shipments for one month starting on Friday.

OTHER METALS: Copper ended flat at $6,826 a tonne, lead closed up 2.6 percent at $2,318, tin ended up 0.1 percent at $21,230 while nickel closed up 1.8 percent at $14,025.

Additional reporting by Tom Daly, editing by Mark Heinrich

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