(Updates prices, adds details)
By Mai Nguyen
SINGAPORE, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Prices of industrial metals mostly increased on Monday, as some positive signals from Washington rekindled optimism that the United States and China could soon sign a trade deal.
A senior U.S. official over the weekend said an initial trade agreement is still possible by the end of the year, after Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump both underscored their desire on Friday to sign a deal.
A Chinese state-backed newspaper said on its Twitter feed that the two countries are “very close” to a phase-one trade deal, and that Beijing is committed to continuing talks for a phase-two and even a phase-three deal with Washington.
The prolonged trade war between the world’s leading economies have been weighing on base metals, so a resolution to the trade conflict is expected to boost prices.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 0.1% at $5,862.50 a tonne, by 0706 GMT, extending gains from the previous session, while the most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) advanced 0.4% to 47,100 yuan ($6,691.39) a tonne.
Prices were also supported by solid data from the U.S., where manufacturing output accelerated in November to its fastest pace in seven months and services activity picked up more than expected.
However, prices were capped from strong gains as uncertainty over the full resolution to the trade conflict remains.
An ambitious “phase two” trade deal is looking less likely as the two countries struggle to strike a preliminary “phase one” agreement, government officials, lawmakers and trade experts told Reuters.
“Despite both sides making progress on a ‘phase one’ deal, a ‘phase two’ deal will likely remain off the cards in our view, due to structural disagreements on key issues,” said Fitch Solutions in a note.
“We believe it is far more likely that the trade war re-accelerates some time next year, rather than continues to steadily de-escalate,” Fitch Solutions added.
* LME PRICES: LME aluminium rose 0.2% to $1,743 a tonne, nickel fell 0.7% to $14,540 a tonne, zinc advanced 0.5% to $2,316.50 a tonne, while lead was unchanged and tin fell 0.1% to $16,330 a tonne.
* SHFE PRICES: ShFE aluminium dipped 0.3% to 13,805 yuan a tonne, nickel eased 0.1% to 114,060 yuan a tonne, zinc fell 0.1% to 18,035 yuan a tonne while lead rose 0.3% to 15,560 yuan a tonne.
* NICKEL: The European Union launched a complaint at the World Trade Organization on Friday against Indonesia’s curbs on exporting nickel and other raw materials, which are designed to benefit its own smelting and stainless steel industries.
* CHINA SCRAP: China’s imports of scrap metal in October fell 42.9% from the previous month to 160,000 tonnes, data released by the General Administration of Customs showed on Saturday.
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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
ARBS ($1 = 7.0389 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Shailesh Kuber)