April 14, 2016 / 3:39 AM / 4 years ago

METALS-Copper edges back from two-week high; China optimism supports

* CME to close New York trading floor at year-end

* Alcoa reaches energy deal for U.S. Intalco smelter

* Coming up: euro zone inflation final Mar at 0900 GMT (Updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, April 14 (Reuters) - London copper eased on Thursday, but prices held near a two-week high on the back of this week’s better-than-expected Chinese trade data, which has raised hopes that the world’s No. 2 economy may be stabilising.

Asian markets were still basking in the afterglow of Chinese exports that jumped 11.5 percent year-on-year in March, the first increase since June and well above market forecasts, which has sparked hope for a brighter reading of first quarter growth on Friday.

“The proof is in the pudding. We have seen a steady improvement in China’s economic numbers for six months or so now,” said analyst Dan Hynes of ANZ in Sydney.

China will report industrial production for March on Friday.

“We see the environment as being broadly positive. There will be some ups and downs over the next few months, but it’s certainly trending upwards and that will obviously be supportive for commodity prices in the shorter term,” Hynes added.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had eased 0.3 percent to $4,817 a tonne by 0846 GMT, after gaining 1.4 percent in the previous session and striking its highest since April 1 at $4,855.

Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) copper ended up 0.41 percent at 36,850 yuan ($5,681) a tonne.

China imported a monthly record for copper stocks in March, as the price gap between LME and ShFE stocks favoured imports, which were also encouraged by cheaper storage terms in China, rather than revealing a surge in consumer demand, traders said.

“The hefty increase of ShFE stocks is actually the results of the arb window opening before Chinese New Year,” said a copper trader in Shanghai, referring to the window for arbitrage.

“People locked in the ratio and booked the cargo before (Lunar) New Year but did the imports in March. I do not think real demand is extraordinarily strong at the moment.”

ShFE zinc rallied 1.8 percent, adding to 5-percent gains in the session before on bets that improving demand will outstrip fragile supply.

Elsewhere, CME Group Inc will shut its New York trading floor at year’s end as computerized trading claims another victim from the world’s old-school financial system. The LME operates the last open outcry floor in Europe.

Alcoa Inc has agreed to a new power deal for its 279,000 tonne-per-year Intalco aluminium smelter, according to a statement from its power supplier, potentially staving off closure of one of the last remaining U.S. aluminium plants.

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

$1 = 6.4860 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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