May 1, 2015 / 10:05 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-Copper hits highest since December on China hopes

* ShFE closed Friday, LME shut Monday for holidays

* Lead could falter in May -traders (Adds official midday prices)

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - Copper prices rose on Friday to their highest since December thanks to seasonal demand and hopes for economic stimulus measures in top consumer China.

Lead hit $2,153 a tonne, its highest since September last year, though investors say it may falter given that the recent rally was prompted by a large drop in exchange stocks that are expected to be re-delivered.

Three-month lead on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was untraded in official midday rings but last bid up 1.2 percent to $2,135 a tonne from $2,110.

Copper hit a session high $6,375 a tonne. It traded at $6,355 in rings from $6,335.

“I recommend selling (copper) rallies that get to $6,500,” said Stephen Briggs, metals strategist at BNP Paribas.

“Yes, we’ve seen Shanghai stocks turn down and the rise in LME stocks has come to an end, but I think copper remains in underlying surplus and we’ll see stocks increase again in the third quarter.”

China’s factories struggled to boost output in April, reinforcing bets that Beijing will roll out more stimulus measures.

“We’re coming into the seasonally strong demand period, so it certainly feels like we’re getting set up for an outsize move. As for whether it can be sustained ... that will depend on whether we see some concrete improvement in the global economy,” said analyst Daniel Hynes at ANZ in Sydney.

Taking the wind out of copper’s sails, the dollar bounced, making commodities cheaper for non-U.S. firms.

Aluminium hit its highest since December at $1,932 a tonne and traded at $1,922 in rings, little changed from $1,924.50 on Thursday.

LME nickel hit its highest since last December at $13,965 a tonne as worries over production stoppages dominate despite the market being amply supplied. It was last bid down at $13,800 in rings from $13,925 on Thursday.

BHP Billiton said on Thursday that union blockades at its Cerro Matoso nickel operation in Colombia had forced it to declare force majeure with some customers.

LME zinc was last bid down at $2,334 in rings from $2,345, while tin was last bid up at $16,175 from $16,025.

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

Three month LME tin

Additional reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by David Clarke and David Goodman

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