Copper prices rose on Friday and were set for a fourth consecutive weekly gain as falling stockpiles pointed to a pickup in demand and traders anticipated healthy buying from top consumer China.

The metal was also buoyed by a rise in global equities and oil prices after a hair-raising plunge on Thursday.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was 0.5 per cent higher at $US5,791 a tonne at 1612 GMT, and up nearly 2 per cent this week.

On Thursday it touched $US5,928, the highest since January 24 and nearly back to $US6,343, the level seen on January 16 just before the market was hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

“With coronavirus lockdowns easing in many parts of the world … demand is rising, especially in places like China,” said WisdomTree analyst Nitesh Shah.

Copper is moving in parallel with stock markets and more economic stimulus could push prices higher, he said.

On-warrant copper stocks in LME-registered warehouses fell by 5,275 tonnes to 125,325 tonnes, the lowest since February 24.

Inventories in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell by 11,782 tonnes to 128,131 tonnes in the week to Friday.

Unionised mine workers in Chile, the world’s top copper producer, said health should take precedence over output.

Yangshan copper import premiums are still well above February lows, but have fallen to $US82.50 from $US113.50 in mid-May.

“Given the near-term bearish signals, copper appears full priced at $US5,750-5,800/t,” analysts at Citi said in a note, adding that rising demand in China meant they were “firmly in the longer term buyers of dips camp”.

Euro zone industrial output fell the most on record in April, and Britain’s economy shrank by a record 20.4 per cent from March.

LME aluminium was down 1.2 per cent at $US1,582 a tonne, zinc was 0.9 per cent lower at $US1,988.50, nickel was flat at $US12,660, lead added 0.9 per cent to $US1,755.50 and tin was 0.8 per cent higher at $US17,045.

All were lower over this week except tin.

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