July 19, 2016 / 2:33 AM / 4 years ago

METALS-London nickel near 10 month highs on Philippine supply concerns

* Nickel Asia reports lower nickel shipments

* Zinc hits 14-month high on technical buys - trader

* Germany ZEW Economic Sentiment for July at 0900 GMT (Adds detail, updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, July 19 (Reuters) - London nickel fell on Tuesday as a drop in oil prices encouraged investors to take profits after earlier rising to near its highest level in 10 months on concerns of lower shipments from the Philippines to top user China.

The Philippines’ top nickel producer Nickel Asia reported an 11.8 percent drop in nickel ore shipments in the first half of 2016 on Monday, after the monsoon and large swells delayed the start of shipments from two mines.

The drop in shipments fanned supply concerns after the country launched an environmental crackdown on mining last month. Last week another small nickel miner, Berong Nickel Corp, was ordered to suspend operations on environmental grounds, which broker Triland noted has fuelled bullish sentiment.

London Metal Exchange nickel traded down half a percent at $10,495 a tonne, eroding to 2.7 percent gains on Monday. Prices earlier rose to $10,660 a tonne, near last week’s peak at $10,670 a tonne which was the highest since Oct 23. SHFE nickel rallied 1.3 percent.

A downturn in crude oil curbed overall investor enthusiasm following fresh record highs on Wall Street, prompting profit-taking on recent market gains.

Ore stockpiles at Chinese ports have been growing, suggesting no immediate supply threat, up to 1.45 million tonnes, latest data showed, the highest since early January. MYSTL-INKO-TTPR

In other metals, LME zinc hit the highest since May last year, up 1.2 percent at $2,243.50 a tonne, helping drag up sister metal lead by 0.9 percent, due to chart-based buying.

“Prices hit stops in an illiquid market,” said a trader in Singapore.

London copper however was little changed as the dollar held steady and markets awaited fresh signals for direction. Copper traded down 0.1 percent to $4,934 a tonne by 0714 GMT, after closing the previous session up 0.4 percent when it dipped to the lowest in four sessions at $4,852.25.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper edged up 0.2 percent to 38,300 yuan ($5,721) a tonne.

Home price rises in China slowed in June for a second straight month, adding to fears that a construction-led rebound in the economy may not be sustainable.

China will relax restrictions on foreign enterprises investing in its fledgling free trade zones (FTZs) in a bid to attract more overseas capital, the country’s cabinet said on Tuesday.

In news, Rio Tinto said it was on track to meet its full-year iron ore shipment guidance from its Australian mines of roughly 330 million tonnes, underscoring the strength of sales to China, despite concerns of oversupply.

Highlighting an increase global copper supply, the producer’s quarterly mined production grew five pct to 141,000 tonnes, while its second quarter aluminium production rose 11 pct to 911,000 tonnes.

Copper mine supply is also growing in the Congo. As Congo’s mining heartland endures mass layoffs at big mines caused by low commodity prices, small-scale mining is helping to fill the deficit.

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 = 6.7013 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Michael Perry

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