* LME/ShFE arb: tmsnrt.rs/2oQ5nm2 (Adds closing prices/details)
By Maytaal Angel
LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - The price of copper hit a two-year peak on Monday on upbeat manufacturing data in top consumer China, while nickel hit a near four-month high on renewed supply worries and soaring steel prices.
Growth in China’s manufacturing sector cooled slightly in July, as foreign demand for Chinese goods slackened, but a government-led drive to develop infrastructure boosted growth in the construction sector..
The data, combined with an environmental crackdown in China, sent Chinese steel prices to their highest since December 2013. Nickel is mainly used in stainless steelmaking.
“Confidence in a second-half slowdown is somewhat softening and this is then reflected in a more positive assessment of industrial metals given they are so closely related to the Chinese economy,” said Carsten Menke, analyst at Julius Baer.
* COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper closed up 0.7 percent at $6,369 a tonne, having hit $6,430 earlier, the highest since May 2015.
* COPPER SPECULATORS: Hedge funds and money managers increased their net long position in COMEX copper in the week to July 25 to their highest level since April, data showed on Friday.
“The latest rise in the copper price was driven largely by speculation. In our opinion considerable correction potential has meanwhile developed,” said Commerzbank in a note.
* NICKEL: Nickel ended up 0.1 percent at $10,270, having earlier hit its highest since early April at $10,355.
* PHILIPPINES: The Philippines’ environment minister Roy Cimatu said he would not lift a ban on open-pit mining imposed in April in an anti-pollution crackdown.
The Philippines is the world’s top nickel ore supplier.
* NORILSK: Russia’s Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel), the world’s second largest nickel producer, said its second-quarter nickel production fell 8 percent, adding it could miss its 2017 output target by up to 3 percent.
* STEEL: Activity in China’s steel industry expanded in July at the fastest pace since April 2016, industry data showed, fuelled by strong demand and low levels of inventory.
* DOLLAR: The dollar held near a 13-month low against a basket of currencies, weighed down by political uncertainty and increased short positions. A weak dollar makes dollar priced metals cheaper for non-U.S. investors.
* ZINC STOCKS: On-warrant or available LME zinc inventories rose to 155,650 tonnes, up 123 percent over the past 2-1/2 weeks.
* ALUMINIUM SHUTDOWNS: China’s Shangdon Zinfa has halted 530,000 tonnes of aluminium capacity, according to media reports.
* METAL PRICES: Aluminium closed up 0.6 percent at $1,918 a tonne, zinc closed up 0.7 percent at $2,795, lead ended up 0.6 percent at $2,334 while tin closed up 0.2 percent at $20,650.
Additional reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Louise Heavens