Aluminiumjumped to a three-week high on Thursday as investors piled into the metal onexpectations of supply shortfalls from China, while tin hit a record high.
Copper,taking its lead from aluminium, also rose more than 2 percent to $8,305, butanalysts said an absence of Chinese buyers would cap prices.
Aluminiumfor delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange touched $3,027 atonne, the highest since April 24 and was trading around $3,020 a tonne at 1423GMT, up from $2,938 a tonne at the close on Wednesday.
Analysts saidthis week's earthquake in China's Sichuan province and the disruption tohydro power supplies and possibly aluminium output had triggered the latestspurt of buying.
There'squite strong investor interest in aluminium on the basis China might be about to suffer severepower shortages which could drive aluminium smelters offline, said JohnKemp, an analyst at RBS Sempra Metals.
Theseworries come on top of the usual worries about power shortages during thesummer season in China, when the use of air conditioningrises.
Electricityaccounts for about one-third of the costs -- estimated on average around $2,400a tonne -- of making aluminium.
China is the world's largest aluminiumproducer with an annualised capacity of around 12.5 million tonnes.
Analystssay aluminium output cuts could mean the country, also the world's largestconsumer, could be looking for material on the world market to feed growingdemand from the power, transport and packaging industries.
Tin touchedan all-time high of $25,500 a tonne and was last trading at $25,400 a tonne,compared with Wednesday's last bid at $25,150.
The metalis up nearly 60 percent since the beginning of this year on worries aboutsupplies from top producers China and Indonesia and low stocks in LMEwarehouses, which at around 7,700 tonnes, are the lowest since September 2005.
Copper roseto $8,280 a tonne from $8,120 on Wednesday. Traders said the metal used inpower and construction had come under some pressure since stocks have startedto rise.
Stocks inLME warehouses stand at just under 121,000 tonnes from below 110,000 earlierthis month.
Westill think copper is going to drift due to a lack of Chinese purchasing,said analyst Max Layton at Macquarie Bank.
Copper hita record high of $8,880 a tonne on April 17 as the market fretted about miners'strikes in Chile and Peru.
Zinc roseto $2,312 from $2,285 on Wednesday. The metal used to galvanise steel has beenbuoyed by news of supply disruptions in China after the earthquake.
Localgovernments in the southern part of Gansu and Shaanxi have ordered zinc smelters to closebecause of fear of aftershocks and to carry out safety inspections.
Wethink zinc losses will be between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes, MacquarieBank's Layton said.
Lead roseto $2,280 from $2,255, while nickel was softer at $26,450 compared withWednesday's last bid at $26,500. Metal Prices at 1415 GMT Metal Last ChangePercent Move End 2007 Ytd Percent
move LME Cu8280.00 160.00 +1.97 6670.00 24.14 SHFE Cu* 61640.00 -260.00 -0.42 56880.008.37 LME Alum 0.00 -2938.00 -100.00 2403.00 -100.00 SHFE Alu* 19040.00 -50.00-0.26 18180.00 4.73 COMEX Cu** 378.10 7.40 +2.00 303.50 24.58 LME Zinc 2305.0020.00 +0.88 2370.00 -2.74 SHFE Zinc* 18470.00 -370.00 -1.96 18950.00 -2.53 LMENick 26500.00 -550.00 -2.03 26350.00 0.57 LME Lead 2282.00 27.00 +1.20 2550.00-10.51 LME Tin 25300.00 150.00 +0.60 16400.00 54.27 ** 1st contract month forCOMEX copper * 3rd contact month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN SHFE ZN began tradingon 26/3/07 (Editing by Ben Tan) (firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 75425113))
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