May 15, 2020 / 3:21 AM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-China April aluminium output picks up as prices recover

* China April aluminium output at 2.97 mln T - stats bureau

* Daily output of 99,000 T is highest since June 2019

* Overall nonferrous output at 4.93 mln T in April (Adds daily output rate, analyst comment, background)

By Tom Daly

BEIJING, May 15 (Reuters) - China’s aluminium production rose by 1.5% in April from a year earlier, official data showed on Friday, and hit a 10-month high on a daily basis as a rapid rebound in prices after a coronavirus-driven collapse kept smelter operating rates high.

The world’s biggest producer and consumer of aluminium churned out 2.97 million tonnes of the metal last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

That was flat on the previous month but on a daily basis April output works out at about 99,000 tonnes per day, according to Reuters calculations, up from around 95,800 tonnes in March, which had one more day.

The daily rate is the highest since June 2019.

Aluminium prices in China, which crashed alongside demand in February and March in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, staged a strong recovery in April, gaining 9% in their best month since August 2017 after smelters had cut supply and consumption at processing plants rebounded.

CRU analyst Wan Ling estimates that 622,000 tonnes of annual capacity was shut down over the first four months of the year but said there have been no further cuts after April and the increase in daily output likely points to restarts.

“I think smelters are not just breaking even, they are making money” at current price levels of around 12,600 yuan ($1,774.57) a tonne, Wan said.

January-April output was up 2.4% year-on-year at 11.93 million tonnes, the bureau said.

China’s output of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel – rose 2.1% from the previous month to 4.93 million tonnes in April, which was also up 3.8% year-on-year.

January-April output was up 2.6% year-on-year at 19.12 million tonnes. The other non-ferrous metals in this group are tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium. ($1 = 7.1003 yuan) (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Tom Hogue and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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