* LME/ShFE arb: tmsnrt.rs/2oQ5nm2
* Chinese crackdown on polluting industries supports prices
(Adds closing prices)
By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, May 22 Zinc and nickel prices touched
their highest in more than two weeks on Monday after China
launched a regional crackdown on the steel industry, including
production of the two metals.
Benchmark zinc on the London Metal Exchange closed
0.7 percent higher at $2,633 a tonne, its highest since May 2.
Nickel hit its highest since May 3, up 0.4 percent to
"The Chinese government is becoming quite aggressive in
targeting environmental problems," said Oxford Economics
commodities analyst Dan Smith.
Nickel is mainly used to make stainless steel, while zinc is
used to galvanise steel.
CHINA POLLUTION: China's Tangshan city launched a campaign
to improve air quality last week, saying that steel mills in the
country's top-producing region that fail to meet emission
standards face suspension and heavy fines.
INVENTORIES: Zinc prices are also gaining support from
falling stocks in LME-approved warehouses, with inventories down
about 20 percent this year at 342,675 tonnes. These are levels
last seen in 2009. MZNSTX-TOTAL
ZINC: Prices have risen by more than 40 percent over the
past year as mine closures and suspensions have fuelled concerns
over potential shortages.
STEEL: Chinese steel futures jumped more than 6 percent on
Monday to their highest since March.
FREEPORT: An estimated 9,000 workers at the giant Grasberg
copper mine operated by the Indonesian unit of Freeport McMoRan
Inc will extend a strike for a second month, a union
official said on Saturday, in an ongoing dispute over employment
terms and layoffs.
COPPER: Copper edged down 0.4 percent to $5,703 a
tonne, having hit the highest since early May at $5,694.50 on
CHINESE ECONOMY: China's economy is likely to expand by
about 6.8 percent in the second quarter of 2017, the State
Information Center said in an article in the state-owned China
Securities Journal on Saturday.
DOLLAR: Support for base metals also came from a weaker U.S.
currency, which makes dollar-denominated metals cheaper for
non-American companies, potentially boosting demand.
OTHER METALS: Aluminium eased 0.3 percent to
$1,938, lead slipped 0.1 percent to $2,092 and tin
added 0.4 percent to $20,480.
(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing
by David Goodman and Mark Potter)