METALS-Zinc soars as smelters duel rising costs, inventories fall

(Updates throughout, adds LONDON dateline)

By Zandi Shabalala

LONDON, April 13 (Reuters) - Zinc prices climbed to their highest in more a month on Wednesday as inventories fell and smelters in Europe battled rising prices for energy, risking further output cuts.

Benchmark three-month zinc on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was up 2% to $4,465 a tonne at 1115 GMT, in its fourth straight session of gains.

"All cards looked stacked in favour of a squeeze in zinc and that will support prices," said independent analyst Robin Bhar.

"A number of zinc smelters in Europe have curbed output and therefore there is a real tightness in the supply/demand fundamentals."

In China, the most-traded zinc contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell to their lowest since June 2020, down 2,975 tonnes to 117,850 tonnes.

High levels of cancelled warrants - metal earmarked for delivery - at 61%, indicate that more zinc is due to leave the LME system.

SPREADS: Rising worries over low inventories can be seen in the premium for LME cash zinc over the three-month contract. The premium stands at around $57 a tonne compared to a discount of about $15 a month ago.

POSITIONS: Sources told Reuters that commodity trader Trafigura and other firms were moving to take large amounts of zinc out of LME warehouses in Asia, fuelling concern about more problems at the exchange after chaotic nickel trading last month.

COVID: Analysts said the spread of COVID-19 in top metals consumer China had caused logistical delays, which have supported zinc prices.

OTHER METALS: LME copper eased 0.3% to $10,315 a tonne, aluminium was down 0.8% at $3,240, lead gained 1.4% to $2,428, tin edged 0.4% higher to $42,960, while nickel added 1.1% to $32,830.

($1 = 6.3666 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Zandi Shabalala Additional reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Potter)

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