January 18, 2019 / 12:01 PM / 7 months ago

METALS-Base metals gain on hopes U.S.-China trade dispute could thaw

* Mnuchin reportedly discussed lifting tariffs on China

* Copper, zinc hit month highs

* Rio sets 2019 copper output at 550-600 tonnes (Adds official midday prices)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - LME copper and zinc hit one-month highs on Friday as base metals gained on signs the trade dispute between the United States and top metals consumer China could be easing.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports.

The Treasury later denied the talks, but the report has continued to lift global markets, including metals.

“Macro headlines are moving copper. The fundamentals don’t give you anything meaningful in terms of a price trend. The market is not so tight that it forces prices higher, and it’s not oversupplied either,” said Macquarie analyst Vivienne Lloyd.

“Copper will remain range-bound until it finds a big macro trigger, and we lean towards an upside move.”

* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was last bid up 0.9 percent in official midday rings at $6,043 a tonne, having hit its highest since the middle of December. The metal is on course for its biggest weekly gain in nine.

* COPPER TECHNICALS: Copper is nearing a break of its 50-day moving average.

* RIO TINTO: Global miner Rio Tinto said mined copper production in the fourth quarter beat its guidance at 633,500 tonnes. It set a 2019 target to churn out between 550,000 and 600,000 tonnes.

* ZINC: Zinc traded up 1 percent in rings at $2,571, having hit its highest since mid-December. The metal is on course for its biggest weekly gain since the week ended Sept. 28.

* ZINC STOCKS: “The increase in zinc ingot stocks at home and abroad is less than expected, supporting prices,” Chinese brokerage Industrial Futures said in a note.

* ZINC TECHNICALS: Zinc on Thursday broke above its 50 and 100-day moving averages.

* TIN POSITIONS: Indicating supply tightness in tin, LME data shows large holdings of tin warrants and cash contracts. <0#LME-WHC>

* RUSAL: The U.S. House of Representatives backed legislation to keep sanctions on companies including Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer outside China, but the Trump administration is expected to lift them as soon as Friday.

* GLOBAL MARKETS: Global stocks rose to their highest in more than a month, buoyed by U.S.-China trade hopes, while the dollar was set for its first weekly rise in five on rate gap bets.

* OTHER METALS: Aluminium traded down 0.1 percent at $1,857 in rings, lead was last bid up 0.9 percent at $1,980, tin traded up 0.6 percent at $20,700, while nickel was last bid up 0.4 percent at $11,630.

Additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter

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