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LME prices jump on China recovery optimism

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Benchmark London metal prices rose on Wednesday, with copper hitting its highest in two weeks and catching up with a rally in commodity prices spurred by China’s move to reopen its borders, further unwinding COVID controls.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.5% at $8,475 a tonne, as of 0254 GMT, after initially climbing to $8,481, its strongest since Dec. 15. The bourse was closed on Monday and Tuesday for public holidays.

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China announced on Monday that inbound travelers would no longer have to go into quarantine from Jan. 8. It will resume issuing visas for mainland residents to travel overseas also beginning Jan. 8.

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Top metals consumer China’s strict COVID containment policy has curbed industrial activity and domestic demand, and last month ignited public unrest.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, the most-traded February copper contract was up 0.2% at 66,420 yuan ($9,529.55) a tonne. It rose to as high as 66,820 yuan early in the session, its loftiest since Dec. 14.

“Sentiment has been supported by China’s sudden shift away from its zero-COVID strategy, but those gains have been limited by concerns about weaker demand in the short term,” ANZ commodity strategists said in a note.

Spikes in China’s COVID cases and the holiday season that runs until after next month’s Spring Festival are expected to dampen metals demand, though supply concerns could still lend some support, analysts said.

Copper stockpiles in SHFE warehouses fell by 9,472 tonnes to 54,569 tonnes in the week to Dec. 23.

Among other metals, LME aluminum was up 1.3% at $2,421.50 a tonne, zinc rose 2.4% to $3,036.50, lead was little changed at $2,274.50, and tin climbed 5.4% to $25,225.

In Shanghai, aluminum was up 0.1% at 18,930 yuan a tonne, tin rose 4% to 207,700 yuan, zinc climbed 0.4% to 23,745 yuan, nickel gained 2.7% to 228,000 yuan, and lead added 0.6% at 16,160 yuan.

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($1 = 6.9699 yuan) (Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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