Aluminium touches near 4-month peak on supply woes

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Feb 8 (Reuters) - Aluminium prices hit their highest on Tuesday in nearly four months, boosted by supply concerns heightened by coronavirus curbs in the Chinese city of Baise that have hit transport of the raw material, alumina.

Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.5% at $3,179 a tonne as of 0700 GMT, after hitting a peak since Oct. 19 at $3,205 earlier.

The most-traded March aluminium contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 2.3% at 22,685 yuan ($3,565.93) a tonne. Earlier in the session, the contract touched 22,770 yuan, a peak since Oct. 22.

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Antaike, a government-backed consultancy, said in a statement on Monday that part of local alumina production - a raw material used to make aluminium - has been affected by the COVID-19-related restrictions in Baise in the Guangxi region and more producers saw transport disruptions. read more

"There's expectation of production cut in aluminium (in the region) ... But the situation won't last long as companies are coordinating with government to ensure transportation of raw materials and products," said an analyst who sought anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

Chinalco's Guangxi branch and Yinhai Aluminium told Reuters their production remained stable for now.

The threat of sanctions on Russia, a major aluminium producer, if it attacks Ukraine has also intensified supply concerns. read more

"Neither the demand seems to decline from here on nor the pressure on supply seems to ease. In the medium-term, prices may stagnate after Russia-Ukraine fears wane, but any sharp drop may not be witnessed," said Kunal Sawhney, chief executive at research firm Kalkine.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The premium of LME cash aluminium over the three-month contract has jumped to $40 a tonne, highest since July 2018, indicating tightening nearby supplies.

* LME copper rose 0.3% to $9,805.5 a tonne, nickel dipped 0.7% to $23,245, lead edged 0.2% higher to $2,199, zinc rose 0.6% to $3,645 and tin eased 0.2% to $42,845.

* ShFE copper fell 0.3% to 70,590 yuan a tonne, nickel gained 0.9% to 172,280 yuan, zinc rose 1.3% to 25,505 yuan, lead eased 0.1% to 14,840 yuan and tin was 0.5% higher at 333,300 yuan.

* Mining activity at Peru's massive Las Bambas copper mine, which accounts for 2% of global supply, has started to fall sharply after protesters blocked a key access road late last month, according to unreported power use data and a company source. read more

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($1 = 6.3616 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru and Min Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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