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METALS-Copper edges higher on rising demand, tight supply

(Updates prices)

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Expectations of rising demand and tight supply pushed copper prices slightly higher on Friday, although investors were cautious following tensions between Chinese and U.S. diplomats and a rapid rise in U.S. bond yields.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 0.2% at $9,069 a tonne at 1730 GMT and roughly unchanged over the week.

The metal, used in power and construction, has lost momentum since reaching $9,617 last month, its highest since 2011.

The rally will likely resume, but not immediately, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

“There’s a little too much uncertainty going on to kick off the rally again just yet,” he said. “But the underlying fundamentals in copper remain strong.”

CLASH: The first high-level U.S.-China meeting of the Biden administration saw a fiery start on Thursday, with both sides rebuking the other’s policies.

MARKETS: Chinese shares slipped by around 2%. U.S. bond yields edged off Thursday’s 14-month highs. Benchmark Brent oil was off 0.85% after a 7% slide on Thursday.

VACCINES: Nearly a dozen countries resumed use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shots on Friday.

CHINA PREMIUM: Chinese Yangshan copper import premiums fell to $67 from $77 in late February, signalling weaker demand for overseas metal. SMM-CUYP-CN

ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium was up 2.4% at $2,268 a tonne after reaching $2,27, its highest since June 2018.

COLUMN: Aluminium is being rattled by signs of a “green” disruption in China, writes Andy Home.

STOCKS/SPREAD: Inventories in LME warehouses have leaped to almost 2 million tonnes from 1.3 million tonnes on March 8, pushing cash aluminium to a steep discount against the three-month contract. MALSTX-TOTAL

OTHER METALS: LME zinc was up 1.9% at $2,845 a tonne, nickel gained 1.6% to $16,295, lead rose 2.7% to $1,974 and tin was 0.7% lower at $25,650. (Reporting by Peter Hobson; additional reporting by Mai Nguyen; editing by Andrea Ricci, Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)

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