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METALS-Copper propelled to 4-week high by disrupted supply, demand hopes

    * Spread of coronavirus: tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7
    * Discount for cash over 3-month copper highest since Jan.
    * Discount for cash over 3-month aluminium near 5-year high

 (Updates prices, adds Indonesia's tin exports)
    By Pratima Desai
    LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) - Copper prices hit a four-week
high on Tuesday, boosted by coronavirus-linked supply
disruptions and expectations of stronger demand, although gains
were capped by caution over the pace of an economic recovery.
    Benchmark copper         on the London Metal Exchange was up
2.9% at $5,163 a tonne at 1700 GMT. Prices of the metal used by
investors as gauge of economic health touched $5,200 earlier,
the highest level since March 17.
    "Some people are convinced things are improving and are
positioning accordingly, but a V-shaped recovery could turn out
to be an illusion," said Peter Fertig, analyst at Quantitative
Commodity Research.
    "China is starting up, but we are far from normalisation,
price gains could be getting ahead of economic reality."
    
    DEMAND: China is the world's largest consumer of copper and
other industrial metals. Markets were cheered last week by a
survey of purchasing managers showing factory activity expanded
in March after plunging in February.             
    "The recent recovery in industrial activity seems to have
stalled, probably because of the collapse in external demand and
high levels of vigilance inside China," analysts at Pictet
Wealth Management said in a note.
    POLL: That idea is reflected in a Reuters survey showing 
China's economy is expected to grow only 2.5% this year, the
slowest annual pace in nearly half a century and a sharp drop
from 6.1% last year.             
    DISRUPTIONS: Peru's Antamina copper mine, controlled by BHP
         and Glencore         , said it would halt all
operations for at least two weeks, while miner Freeport-McMoRan
        said it was conducting limited operations at the Cerro
Verde copper mine, also in Peru.                          
    "As Peruvian copper mines joined the rest of the world to
suspend production, the supply risks have strengthened," analyst
Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities said in a note, adding that
around a third of China's feedstock for smelting activities was
imported.
    SPREADS: However, expectations of nearby surpluses can be
seen in the discount for cash over the three-month copper
MCU0-3 at three-month highs of $29 a tonne, from levels near
$3 a tonne on March 24.
    Expectations of large surpluses also pushed the discount for
the cash over the three-month aluminium contract to $40 a tonne
last week, the highest since June 2015.
    Three-month aluminium         was up 1.8% at $1,506 a tonne.
    OTHER METALS: Zinc         gained 1% to $1,920, lead        
slipped 1.5% to $1,696, tin         added 3.3% to $15,455, and
nickel         climbed 1.8% to $11,885 a tonne.
    TIN: Prices of the soldering metal hit a four-week high of
$15,650 a tonne on worries about supplies after the world's
largest tin exporter, Indonesia, said its refined tin exports
slumped 20.9% in March from a year earlier.             

 (Reporting by Pratima Desai; additional reporting by Mai
Nguyen; Editing by Mark Potter, Pravin Char and Maju Samuel)
  
 
 

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