Prices of copper and most other industrial metals rose as investors held out hope that Washington and Beijing could still reach a trade agreement, even as higher U.S. tariffs on more Chinese goods took effect on Friday.
China appealed to the United States to meet it halfway to salvage a deal that could end their trade war, after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a tariff hike, accusing Beijing of reneging on commitments it had made in the talks.
Investors were also relieved that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He went to Washington to conduct talks with U.S. officials as scheduled, after worries arose earlier in the week that he would not come, a trader and an analyst said.
Liu and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked for 90 minutes on Thursday and talks will resume on Friday.
Trump said on Thursday he believed it was possible to reach a deal this week and that he might speak over the phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Most base metals rallied strongly in early Asian trading hours, but then retreated slightly as investors exercised more caution when tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods increased to 25% from 10% at 0401 GMT on Friday.
Without elaborating, China said it would strike back.
Aside from the tariff hike on Friday, Trump has also said he would impose 25% tariff on the remaining $325 billion of Chinese goods imported into the United States.
“The higher tariffs will have a significant negative effect on (Chinese) exports, against the backdrop of a slowing economy,” said Michael Taylor, Moody’s Investors Service managing director and chief credit officer for Asia Pacific.
Further policy easing by China will mitigate only some of the impact, he said.
Increased trade tensions could crimp demand for metals, especially in top consumer China.
* Benchmark copper was up 1.1% at $6,170 a tonne, as of 0708 GMT, but on track for its fourth straight weekly decline. The most active Shanghai copper contract rose 0.3% to close at 47,760 yuan ($7,023.84) a tonne.
* London nickel increased 1.5%, zinc advanced 0.7%, aluminium edged up 0.5%, lead increased 0.7%, and tin rose 0.8%.
* ALUMINIUM: Rio Tinto has begun shipping more aluminium to markets such as Europe to offset slowing demand from the United States partly caused by the trade dispute, Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said.