Copper rose to a one-month high on Friday on plans for the US economy to reopen and signs of recovery in China’s industrial output, even as growth in the top metals contracted in the first quarter. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 1.4 per cent at $US5,212 a tonne by 1600 GMT (0200 on Monday AEST). The metal, used as a gauge of economic health, logged its biggest weekly gain since February 2019, ending about 4.0 per cent higher. “We have seen the worst in China, assuming no further major outbreaks and so I feel the markets are happy to draw a line under China at least,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Timothy Wood-Dow said. China’s factory production showed a smaller-than-expected fall in March, suggesting tax and credit relief for virus-hit firms was helping restart parts of the economy shut down since February. Overall, China’s economy shrank for the first time on record in the first quarter. The reading was also a slightly larger decline than expected. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump laid out new guidelines for US states to emerge from their coronavirus shutdown with a gradual approach, cheering markets. Copper prices were also supported by Rio Tinto, the world’s second-biggest miner of the metal, cutting its estimated annual copper output to 475,000-520,000 tonnes from 530,000-570,000 tonnes earlier. Yangshan Chinese copper import premiums were hovering near seven-month highs, pointing to increased demand in China. They stood at $US81 a tonne, up from $US55 in February. Weekly copper inventories in warehouses tracked by the Shanghai Futures Exchange hit a near two-month low of 303,366 tonnes, data showed on Friday. In warehouses monitored by the LME, copper stocks rose to their highest since October 2019, up 4,600 tonnes to 265,425 tonnes. Analysts raised concerns about metals demand outside China, where governments have imposed lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus. “Ultimately, if confidence remains weak in the rest of the world and unemployment rates continue to go up, Chinese exports will be affected and this will reduce demand from the export sector in China and push copper prices lower,” Marex Spectron commodity broker Anna Stablum said. Widespread positive sentiment across markets was also supported by a media report on encouraging partial data from trials of Gilead Sciences’ experimental drug remdesivir in severe COVID-19 patients. The company cautioned, however, the data was incomplete. LME aluminium was 0.4 per cent lower at $US1,506.50 a tonne. China reported daily output of the metal fell 1.7 per cent in March from January-February. LME zinc gained 0.7 per cent to $US1,951.50 a tonne, lead eased 0.9 per cent to $US1,679, tin added 1.1 per cent to $US15,120 and nickel was up 2.5 per cent at $US12,055.