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By Eric Onstad

LONDON, March 7 (Reuters)Copper prices touched their highest in five weeks on better-than-expected trade data in top metals consumer China while zinc also surged due to a cut in output at a major South Korean smelter.

Three month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 was up 0.7% to $3,638 a metric ton by 1045 GMT, the strongest since Jan. 31.

Data showed that China’s export and import growth in the first two months of 2024 beat forecasts.

“The Chinese trade data was quite good, with exports being strong. Copper imports were up as well, so it looks like demand is doing all right actually,” said Dan Smith, head of research at Amalgamated Metal Trading.

China’s unwrought copper imports rose 2.6% year-on-year in January and February, customs data showed.

The Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN rose to $60 a ton on Wednesday, the highest since Jan. 19, indicating improving demand for copper imports into China.

LME zinc also hit a five-week high, fuelled by a 20% production cut at Young Poong Corp’s 000670.KS Seokpo smelter in South Korea, analysts and a trader said.

LME Zinc CMZN3 gained 1.5% to $2,531.50 a ton, the highest since Jan. 31.

Another trader said the rally was also due to tight zinc concentrate supply, but added that Chinese demand had so far remained flat versus last year.

“Zinc consumption from downstream galvanizing manufacturers in northern China has recently been subject to environmental protection and production restrictions, and demand has been mediocre,” said Huatai Futures in a report.

LME aluminium CMAL3 rose 0.9% to $2,254 a ton, nickel CMNI3 climbed 1.1% to $17,910, lead CMPB3 advanced 1.7% to $2,101 and tin CMSN3 gained 0.8% to $27,415.

For the top stories in metals, click TOP/MTL

(Reporting by Eric Onstad Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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