* LME/ShFE arb: bit.ly/2wZSAEz
* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates with closing prices)
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - Lead fell on Friday as some buyers cashed in on a recent rally but the metal still posted its biggest weekly rise since September after this week’s drop in available stocks, and as investors positioned for a market in deficit.
Despite Friday’s move lower, the battery metal is still up 4.5 percent so far this week.
“The market is quite tight and we’ve had a fall in stocks this year, which is supporting prices,” Capital Economics analyst Caroline Bain said, though she added that the metal was likely to struggle to extend gains in the longer run.
“The underlying fundamentals or the medium term outlook for demand we think is quite poor, because of the growth in alternative, greener batteries,” she said. “But there is tightness in the market that will support prices at least for the time being.”
* LEAD PRICES: Three-month lead on the London Metal Exchange closed down 2.2 percent at $2,438 a tonne, having hit its highest since late February on Thursday at $2,509.
* LEAD INVENTORIES: On-warrant lead stocks in LME-registered warehouses - those not already earmarked for delivery - are down 20,325 tonnes or 22 percent this week, although data showed on Friday they had risen 1,000 tonnes from the previous day’s low.
* SHANGHAI LEAD: Lead inventories in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 18 percent from a week ago to 12,676 tonnes, the exchange said on Friday.
* ALUMINIUM PRICES: LME aluminium ended the day down 0.7 percent at $2,263 a tonne. Prices hit a seven-year peak last month after the United States imposed sanctions on Russian aluminium producer Rusal.
* RUSAL BOARD: Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska stepped down as a director of Rusal as part of a series of steps he hopes will persuade the U.S. government to rescind the sanctions that have crippled his businesses.
* COPPER: Copper finished up 0.1 percent at $6,885 a tonne.
* VEDANTA: Vedanta Resources plans to stick to operations in a southern Indian city despite deadly protests demanding the closure of its copper smelter on environmental grounds this week, a company executive told Reuters on Friday.
* COPPER: India’s Tamil Nadu state said on Thursday that it was seeking the closure of the Vedanta smelter.
* OTHER METALS: Tin closed 1.3 percent lower at $20,150 a tonne, while zinc ended up 0.5 percent at $3,050 and nickel finished down 0.8 percent at $14,780.
Additional reporting by Tom Daly in Beijing Editing by Edmund Blair and Elaine Hardcastle