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METALS-Lead surges to 10-month high as shortages hit market

Kitco News

* Aluminium touches two-week low

* LME/ShFE arb: (Recasts, adds comments, updates prices)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Lead climbed to the highest levels in 10 months on Monday as an environmental crackdown in China to curb pollution and a halt to imports from North Korea led to shortages.

"The tightness both on the refined and on the scrap side is also keeping the pressure on exchange inventories," analyst Edward Meir at INTL FCStone said in a note.

Not only were 60 percent of lead-zinc mines undergoing month-long shutdowns during environment inspections in Sichuan province, but United Nations sanctions on North Korea has hit China's No. 2 lead ore and concentrate supplier. The global lead market was in a deficit of 109,000 tonnes during the first seven months of the year compared to a surplus of 42,000 tonnes in the same period last year, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group. Lead was the top performer on the London Metal Exchange on Monday with three month futures touching a high of $2,544 a tonne, the strongest since late November 2016. It had pared gains to $2,525 by 1435 GMT, a gain of 1.6 percent.

The metal mainly used for batteries has been the strongest gainer on the LME this year, rallying by a quarter.

* LEAD BACKWARDATION: Cash lead moved to a $7 premium against the three-month contract , the highest since April. A backwardation, when a nearby contract is higher than a forward one, usually indicates lack of supply.

* ZINC: LME zinc gained 1.6 percent to $3,213 after available LME inventories fell by 16,950 tonnes, bringing the decline so far this year to 64 percent.

* ZINC TIGHTNESS: The premium of cash zinc over three months was $43.25 a tonne at Friday's close, down from a peak of $66 earlier last week, but still strong compared with a high of $11 during the year until mid-September.

* ALUMINIUM: Benchmark LME aluminium fell 0.7 percent to $2,087.50 a tonne after touching $2,082, the lowest since Sept. 18, as investors locked in profits while they waited for evidence that an environmental crackdown in China would cut output. "While there's been talk of the cuts, we really haven't seen them yet. I do think they're still coming, but people are looking for a little bit more evidence," said Colin Hamilton, director of commodities research at BMO Capital Markets in London.

* COPPER: LME copper slipped 0.3 percent to $6,465 a tonne after news that Indonesia's giant Grasberg mine can continue to export copper concentrate even if permit talks are not resolved this month. * CHINA FACTORIES: Some metals were supported by data showing that the manufacturing sector in top metals consumer China expanded at the fastest clip in more than five years and after Beijing reduced bank reserve requirements to boost lending. * PRICES: LME nickel gave up 2.1 percent to $10,275 a tonne and tin was unchanged at $20,675.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Top base and precious metals analysis - GFMS LME/ShFE arb ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. in Manila; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Evans)

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