March 23, 2018 / 11:51 AM / 2 years ago

METALS-Base metals hit multi-month lows on trade war fears

* LME/ShFE arb:

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: (Adds closing prices)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Base metals hit multi-month lows on Friday as the threat of a global trade war escalated after U.S. President Donald Trump announced tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods.

Trump plans to impose the tariffs for what he says is misappropriation of U.S. intellectual property, but only after a 30-day consultation period that starts once a list is published.

Increasing tensions have sent jitters through financial markets as investors see dire consequences if the world’s two largest economies start erecting trade barriers.

In London, copper, aluminium and zinc hit their weakest since mid-December, while in Shanghai, copper retreated towards levels not seen since mid-2017, but trimmed some of its losses towards the end of the Asian day.

“We expect copper to continue to rise during the course of the year, reflecting the supply deficit, but obviously we’re watching what could develop into a trade war. If it does, it changes everything,” said Nitesh Shah, commodity strategist at ETF Securities.

* COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper ended down 0.5 percent at $6,660 a tonne, having plumbed its weakest since mid-December at $6,623.50. Prices extended falls from the previous session, breaking the 200-day moving average for the first time in around 18 months.

* CHINA: China’s commerce ministry said the country was planning measures against up to $3 billion of U.S. imports to balance U.S. tariffs against Chinese steel and aluminium.

* NICKEL, ZINC: A sell-off in steel spilled into inputs nickel and zinc. Shanghai rebar tumbled near 7 percent, while LME nickel closed down 1.8 percent at $12,950, having hit its lowest since early February. Zinc ended up 0.5 percent at $3,217, having hit its lowest since mid-December.

* ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium ended down 1.2 percent at $2,050.50, having hit three-month lows after breaking below the 200-day moving average earlier this month.

* STEEL: Chinese steel traders fear a prolonged market downturn as prices skid to their lowest in years.

* SHANGHAI ALUMINIUM: Aluminium inventories in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose on the week to a record high of 940,318 tonnes.

* SCRAP: China’s scrap metal imports fell by 38.5 percent year on the year as the country enforced its clampdown on foreign waste.

* CONGO: Democratic Republic of Congo’s mines minister rejected a proposal by mining companies on Friday to soften some provisions in a new mining code in exchange for higher royalties.

* OTHER METALS: Lead closed down 1.1 percent at $2,341 while tin ended down 0.5 percent at $20,750.

Additional reporting by Melanie Burton Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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