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METALS-Copper rebounds; Tesla expects copper, nickel shortage

(Updates prices)

SINGAPORE, May 3 (Reuters) - Copper prices and other industrial metals recovered slightly on Friday in thin Labour Day holiday trade, supported by expectations of a global shortage for copper and nickel by electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc.

Tesla, a major minerals consumer, saw shortages of nickel, copper and other electric-vehicle battery minerals down the road due to under-investment in the mining sector, its global supply manager for battery metals told a conference on Thursday.

Three-month copper rose 0.3 percent to $6,187.50 a tonne at 0642 GMT, rebounding from a two-and-a-half-month low hit in the previous session but on track for a second weekly fall in a row.

Copper has been under pressure on uncertain demand outlook from China, the world’s biggest consumer of the red metal, as the Chinese economic growth hasn’t yet shown a steady sign of stabilising after last year’s slowdown.

“Looking ahead, as supply disruptions in Chile and Peru in the second half of this year will become more apparent, this may help rebalance the market (for copper),” Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities said in a note.

“Before this happens, we are concerned that a further strength in dollar and sluggish economic report from the United States and China may further put downward pressure on copper prices overs short-term in our view,” Lau said.


* COPPER: Latest data showed copper stocks in LME-approved warehouses MCUSTX-TOTAL rebounded slightly to 231,950 tonnes on Wednesday when the LME copper cash-to three month spread CMCU0-3 returned to the discount zone.

* PRICES: Nickel increased 0.2 percent, aluminium rose 0.3 percent, zinc advanced 0.2 percent, lead was up 0.4 percent and tin was nearly flat at $19,280 a tonne.

* NICKEL INVENTORY: Nickel stocks in LME-approved warehouses MNISTX-TOTAL was at its lowest level since April 2013, latest data showed.

* LME ASIA WEEK: London Metal Exchange’s Hong Kong will kick off a series of events gathering executives, traders and brokers in the industrial metals industry on Monday.

* A U.S. senator planned to introduce legislation on Thursday to streamline regulation and permitting requirements for the development of mines for electric-vehicle supply chain minerals, part of a plan to offset China’s dominance in the space.

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Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin


Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Rashmi Aich