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Copper up for second day, lifted by boost in China grid spending

Copper edged further away from 5-1/2 year lows on Friday after moves by China to boost power grid spending and lending helped to ease fears about demand, but the metal still notched its biggest weekly loss since 2011. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.3 percent at $5,715 a tonne by the close for its second day of gains. On Wednesday it was dragged to its lowest since mid-2009 at $5,353.25, the biggest one-day percentage drop in more than three years.

Copper found support from news that the Chinese State Grid plans to boost investment by 24 percent this year, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. "The aggressive targets announced reinforce our expectation of strong copper (and aluminium) demand growth from the Chinese power sector," Citi analyst Ivan Szpakowski said in a note. "Chinese copper demand should outperform overall economic growth in 2015 and help drive higher copper prices from Q1 lows."

The metals complex also received support from news that China's central bank will increase its relending quota by 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) this year. "Infrastructure projects have been fast-tracked in China and there are other positive comments coming out of there as well, which has helped (lift copper). The falls on Wednesday were clearly overdone and not related to fundamentals," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said. The metal used in power and construction registered a fall of 6.2 percent this week and has lost 9 percent of its value since the beginning of the year.

In other metals, aluminium surged 3 percent to close at $1,845 a tonne for a 1.7 percent weekly rise. Leon Westgate at Standard Bank said a high aluminium price up to December had driven smelters to boost production. "As a result, we have made some significant changes to our aluminium supply-demand balance (for 2015) since our last quarterly report," he said in a note. "It now stands at 211,000 tonnes, from 1.27 million tonnes previously forecast."

Aluminium stocks held at three large Japanese ports rose for a ninth straight month to hit a record high at the end of December as imports rose and demand weakened at home and elsewhere in Asia. The trend reflects the impact of swelling Chinese exports, which have boosted supplies in the region. Lead was the biggest gainer, jumping 3.9 percent to close at $1,850 a tonne. Zinc was up 0.2 percent at $2,097 a tonne, tin added 0.2 percent to $19,400 and nickel finished 2.1 percent higher at $14,780.

Copyright Reuters, 2015