* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates throughout, changes dateline from BEIJING)
By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Copper jumped to its highest level in six weeks on Thursday after the United States said it would delay imposing a new round of tariffs on China, raising hopes that a thawing of tensions would bode well for demand for the metal.
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed China’s decision to exempt some U.S. anti-cancer drugs and other goods from its tariffs and announced a short delay to scheduled tariff hikes on Chinese goods.
The world’s two largest economies have levied tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods in a bitter trade war that has raised the spectre of a global recession, with further tariffs slated to take effect in coming months.
Copper, mainly used in power and construction, is seen as a bellwether for the health of the global economy and has suffered amid softer growth. It is also mainly consumed in China.
“Sentiment from market participants is a little bit better due to the news in the trade dispute between the United States and China,” said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.
But he cautioned that Thursday’s gains may be short lived. “We have seen some signs of easing in the trade dispute on a number of occasions, however in each case these hopes were always disappointed.”
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) gained 1.8% to $5,878 tonne by 1011 GMT after hitting its highest level since Aug. 1 at $5,898.
INVENTORIES: Headline copper inventories in LME-approved warehouses eased 5,475 tonnes to 299,750, the lowest in a month. But that is still about 97% higher this year. MCUSTX-TOTAL
SPREADS: The discount of LME cash copper over the three-month price hit $34 a tonne, its biggest since May 22, signalling plentiful supply. CMCU0-3
INDONESIA: Large mining companies on Wednesday welcomed a recent decision by the Indonesian government to move forward a ban on exporting nickel ore, as the firms aim to increase smelting output.
STOCKS: On the LME, the world’s largest and oldest metal trading platform, on-warrant stocks of nickel available to the market fell 5,718 tonnes to their lowest since Dec. 2008, at 77,628 tonnes. MNISTX-TOTAL
SPREADS: This helped to propel the premium of cash nickel over three-month contract to $102 a tonne, just below the decade-high of $104 seen on Aug. 30.
SQM LITHIUM: Shares in Chilean lithium producer SQM jumped on Wednesday after it announced plans to invest about $2.1 billion in the next five years to strengthen its production amid an expected increase in demand for the ultralight battery metal.
SHFE: The ShFE will be closed on Friday for China’s Mid-Autumn Festival, reopening on Monday.
OTHER METALS: Aluminium slipped 0.5% to $1,816.50 a tonne, zinc was flat at $2,362 a tonne, lead shed 0.4% to 2,085, while tin lost 1.4% to $17,520 and nickel rose 1.6% to $18,130.
Additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Pravin Char
LINK ORIGINAL: Reuters