METALS-Low stocks drive Shanghai nickel prices to 1-1/2-month high

    (Recasts, adds details and comment)
    By Eileen Soreng
    Jan 10 (Reuters) - Shanghai nickel prices rose on Monday to
their highest level in more than one month, with inventories of
the metal hovering close to record lows, though demand from
Chinese stainless steel producers was expected to ease in the
current quarter.
    The most actively traded February nickel contract on the
Shanghai Futures Exchange          ended daytime trading up 2.5%
at 154,840 yuan ($24,300.06) a tonne. Earlier in the session,
prices rose to 155,160 yuan, a peak since Nov. 25.
    Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange         was
up 0.9% at $20,915 a tonne, as of 0305 GMT.
    "Nickel prices are expected to remain strong in the
short-term amid low inventories and destocking expectations, but
increasing capacity from Indonesia will curb further increase in
the medium- to long-term," analysts with Jinrui Futures wrote in
a note.
    With stainless steel producers stepping up maintenance in
the first quarter, nickel demand could weaken from the previous
quarter, according to the analysts.
    Refined nickel inventories in ShFE warehouses were last at 4,859 tonnes, close to a record low of 4,455 tonnes
hit in August 2021.
    LME cash nickel was at a premium of $125 a tonne over the
three-month contract , its highest Dec. 8, indicating
tight nearby supplies. LME stocks were at 100,248
tonnes, its lowest level since December 2019.

    * LME copper         was flat at $9,648 a tonne, aluminium
        climbed 1.2% to $2,948 a tonne, lead         edged up
0.2% to $2,283 a tonne, zinc         was 0.2% higher at $3,540 a
tonne, while tin         eased 0.3% to $39,725 a tonne.
    * ShFE copper          rose 0.6% to 69,780 yuan a tonne,
aluminium          rose 1.1% to 21,225 yuan a tonne, zinc
         fell 0.9% to 24,270 yuan, lead          dropped 0.9% to
15,190 yuan and tin          gained 1% to 298,750 yuan.
    * Peruvian Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez said on Friday she
would travel again next Friday to an area of frequent protests
against MMG Ltd's (MMLTF)           Las Bambas copper mine as tensions
with community protesters build up once again.
    * A major aluminium smelter in Dunkirk, France will reduce
production by 15% in response to soaring electricity prices.

    * For the top stories in metals and other news, click

    ($1 = 6.3720 Chinese yuan)

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak
Dasgupta and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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