By Mai Nguyen and Tom Daly
SINGAPORE/BEIJING, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Shanghai aluminium hit its highest level in three months on Wednesday, as easing U.S.-China trade conflict fuelled demand optimism.
“Demand is good and China’s output has not increased, so the price is relatively high. It is expected that demand will be better next year,” said a source with a major aluminium smelter in China, the world’s biggest user and producer of the metal.
Global investor confidence has improved since the United States and China last week said they reached a “phase-one” trade pact to cool their trade war that has hurt global economic growth and the demand for most base metals, including aluminium.
Aluminium, used in construction, packaging and transportation, is one of the metals most heavily targeted with U.S. tariffs in the 17-month-long trade war.
“Everyone has become optimistic,” after news about the interim U.S.-China trade deal, the source added.
The most traded aluminium contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) climbed as much as 1.2% to 14,130 yuan ($2,007.42) a tonne, a level not seen since Sept. 18. It closed up 0.9% at 14,100 yuan a tonne.
Benchmark three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was 0.5% higher at $1,772.50 a tonne by 0706 GMT.
* ALUMINIUM STOCKS: Inventories in warehouses tracked by ShFE AL-STX-SGH fell to their lowest since March 2017 at 218,367 tonnes. In contrast, stocks in LME-approved warehouses MALSTX-TOTAL rose to a 2-1/2-year high of 1.44 million tonnes.
* ALUMINA: China’s average price of alumina SMM-ALM-AVEG, the substance used to make aluminium, fell to 2,429 yuan a tonne, its lowest since May 2017, lowering production costs for aluminium smelters.
* LEAD: China’s lead production hit a record high of 572,000 tonnes in November, up 15.1% year-on-year, sparking oversupply concern and pushing ShFE lead to as low as 14,750 yuan a tonne, its lowest since April 2018.
* BALANCE: But the global lead market recorded a deficit of 81,000 tonnes in the first 10 months of this year, compared with a shortage of 53,000 tonnes in the same period of 2018, the International Lead and Zinc Study Group said.
* CHINA COPPER: China’s refined copper output rose by 19.6% year-on-year to a record monthly high of 909,000 tonnes in November, official data showed.
* OTHER PRICES: LME copper fell 0.5% to $6,167.50 a tonne, nickel declined 0.6% to $13,870 a tonne, while zinc advanced 0.6% to $2,295.50 a tonne. ShFE copper fell 0.4% to 49,070 yuan a tonne, while nickel dropped 2.5% to 108,760 yuan a tonne.
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Three month LME copper
Most active ShFE copper
Three month LME aluminium
Most active ShFE aluminium
Three month LME zinc
Most active ShFE zinc
Three month LME lead
Most active ShFE lead
Three month LME nickel
Most active ShFE nickel
Three month LME tin
Most active ShFE tin
ARBS ($1 = 7.0389 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Reporting by Mai Nguyen in Singapore and Tom Daly in Beijing; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Rashmi Aich