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LONDON: Copper prices ticked higher on Tuesday after Russia returned some troops to base after exercises near Ukraine, easing fears about a potential invasion and boosting financial markets.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose 0.7% to $9,985 a tonne by 1115 GMT after a 0.6% gain the previous day.

It was unclear how many Russian units were being withdrawn to their bases after an estimated 130,000 Russian troops had been moved close to the Ukraine border.

"The metals markets in the short-term remain at the mercy of the Ukraine situation, moving back and forth between risk-off and risk-on dynamic," said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, partner at consultancy T-Commodity in Milan.

"But if we exclude the geopolitical pressures, the general trend remains on the upside for most of the metals."

London copper prices gain as inflation jitters mount

Any downside moves, including knee-jerk reactions to faster than expected US monetary tightening, would be a buying opportunity, Torlizzi added.

He has targets of $11,000 for copper, $3,500 for aluminium and $30,000 for nickel.

With physical buying in China expected to start picking up in the next few weeks as the economy returns to normal after the Lunar New Year holidays, visible copper stocks are likely to remain at multi-year lows in the near term, said CRU analyst Craig Lang.

The most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed 0.3% down at 71,060 yuan ($11,190.90) a tonne.

LME aluminium slipped 0.2% to $3,209 a tonne, zinc gained 0.6% to $3,597.50, nickel rose 0.2% to $23,220, lead was up 0.5% at $2,298 and tin advanced 0.3% to $43,380.

The premium on LME cash aluminium over the three-month contract rose to $51.25 a tonne for its highest since July 2018, indicating tightening nearby supplies.

MMG Ltd plans to ramp up production to normal levels at its Las Bambas copper mine in Peru after a group of local communities agreed to a 45-day truce with the government over protests and road blockades that had halted output.

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