Zinc prices gained on Friday, lifted by concerns about short-term shortages, while some other industrial metals were buoyed by optimism about a potential U.S.-China trade deal.
Copper, however, dipped after a jump in inventories this week raised questions about rising supply.
Volumes were light, with Chinese participants away and the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) closed for the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday. It will reopen on Monday.
Metals and other markets were lifted after U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States and top metals consumer China were close to a trade deal that could be announced within four weeks.
But analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer in Zurich did not believe this was justified.
“These markets already moved higher a couple weeks back because of stimulus hopes in China, and now you have the positive element of progress on the trade talks, but I don’t think these two go together,” he said.
“If you make the call that with the trade talks China will do better in the future, then the economy will need less stimulus. Even if we get a deal, which I think is quite likely, I wouldn’t expect any major lift in industrial metals demand.”
Zinc is the second best performing metal on the London Metal Exchange this year behind nickel, up 18 percent as rising supply from mines has faced bottlenecks in being processed into metal.
Benchmark LME zinc rose 0.4 percent to trade at $2,908 a tonne in official open outcry activity.
* ZINC/COPPER SPREADS: The premium of LME cash zinc over the three-month contract CMZN0-3 rose to $71 a tonne, near the peak of $76.75 touched a week ago, which was the strongest since early January, indicating near-term shortages in the LME system.
LME cash copper, on the other hand, has deepened its discount against the three-month contract CMCU0-3 to $14.25 a tonne, the biggest discount since Feb.12, showing healthy supplies, compared with a premium of $70 in early March.
* COPPER STOCKS: Copper stockpiles in LME-approved warehouses MCUSTX-TOTAL remained at high levels on Friday after having surged this week, climbing to the highest in six months and nearly double the level three weeks ago.
Copper inventories at warehouses tied to the ShFE remained near a nine-month high. CU-STX-SGH
LME copper, untraded in rings, was bid down 0.3 percent at $6,432 a tonne.
* NORSK HYDRO: A Brazilian federal court has scheduled an April 12 hearing on the year-long production embargo at Norsk Hydro’s Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil, the Norwegian company said.
* PRICES: Three-month LME aluminium traded down 0.5 percent at $1,886 a tonne in official rings, nickel was bid up 0.6 percent to $13,175, lead was bid down 0.1 percent at $1,992.50 while tin was bid up 0.1 percent at $21,100.