January 29, 2018 / 1:30 PM / 3 months ago

METALS-Supply worries drive zinc to 10 1/2-year high

* LME/ShFE arb: bit.ly/2wZSAEz (Updates with closing prices)

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Zinc prices surged to the highest since 2007 on Monday as falling stockpiles suggested tight supplies, while expectations of strong demand pushed nickel to a 2 1/2-year peak after it broke through a key technical level last week.

Most industrial metals rose as investors looked ahead to details of infrastructure-building in U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday and Chinese manufacturing PMI data on Wednesday.

“There is fresh money coming through and lots of optimism about the global economy,” said Robin Bhar, head of metals research at Societe Generale.

ZINC: Benchmark zinc on the London Metal Exchange closed up 2.1 percent at $3,550 a tonne after earlier hitting $3,584, the highest since July 2007. Zinc, used to galvanize steel, has rocketed 150 percent since early 2016.

STOCKS: Shortages of refined metal have seen stocks in LME-approved warehouses fall to their lowest since 2008 at 176,275 tonnes. MZNSTX-TOTAL

HOLDINGS: Worries about a tight LME market have been reinforced by a large position holding between 80 and 89 percent of zinc warrants and cash contracts. <0#LME-WHL>

BACKWARDATION: Demand for nearby metal pushed the premium for cash zinc over the three-month contract to $50.50 from $20.75 a week ago. MZN0-3

DEFICIT: Consultancy Wood Mackenzie expects a zinc market deficit of 350,000 tonnes this year and 150,000 tonnes in 2019.

NICKEL: Nickel finished up 1.1 percent at $13,805 after touching $14,040 a tonne, the highest since May 2015. The stainless steel ingredient has been boosted by expectations of surging demand for use in batteries to power electric vehicles.

TECHNICALS: Nickel last week burst above a long-term downtrend from 2011, triggering technical buying. Fibonacci resistance comes in at $14,590, said brokers Marex Spectron.

OUTPUT: 2017 nickel production by Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals fell 24 percent year-on-year to 17,837 tonnes, contributing to a global market deficit.

TIN: LME tin ended 1.5 percent higher at $21,925 after reaching $22,000 a tonne, the highest since November 2016. The metal used for soldering has risen 17 percent since mid-December.

STOCKS: Tin stocks are near record lows and one entity holds between 50 and 79 percent of warrants and cash contracts, fanning fears over availability. MSNSTX-TOTAL <0#LME-WHL>

CHINA: A senior official said economic growth in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, will likely slow to 6.5-6.8 percent this year.

COPPER STRIKE: Chile’s Codelco has struck a contract deal with workers at its Andina copper mine as it tries to reach advance agreements with unions in a year busy with labour negotiations.

OTHER METALS: Copper ended unchanged at $7,085 a tonne, aluminium ended down 1.4 percent at $2,225.50 a tonne and lead closed 0.4 percent higher at $2,602 a tonne.

Reporting by Melanie Burton, additional reporting by Tom Daly in Beijing, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Edmund Blair

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