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BEIJING: Shanghai copper prices ended March with their biggest monthly gain in 16 months amid prospects of lower supply.

The most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange settled up 350 yuan, or 0.48%, at 72,530 yuan ($10,043) per metric ton on Friday.

That was up 5.4% on the month, the contract’s biggest monthly gain since November 2022. The Shanghai Metals Market (SMM) estimates March refined copper output in China rose 2% on-year to 970,200 tons.

Monthly output in the second quarter will decline as smelters enter intensive maintenance, SMM added.

The London Metal Exchange is closed for the Good Friday holiday. Chinese copper smelters agreed earlier this month to curb their output amid short supply of copper ore and concentrate, sending prices to a record high.

Copper is used in the power, transportation and construction sectors. Lead futures prices rose to a four-month high on prospects of tighter supply. Since mid-March, large domestic lead smelters have been undergoing maintenance, which is expected to affect about 20,000 tons of production in April, according to analysts at Jinrui Futures.

Nexa Resources’ recent announcement that it would suspend production at its Morro Agudo lead mine in Brazil from May 1 also added to supply concerns. SHFE lead climbed 2.88% to 16,815 yuan a ton.

Aluminium settled up 1.41% at 19,710 yuan, nickel added 0.94% to 130,920 yuan, zinc rose 0.62% to 20,945 yuan and tin rose 2.12% to 228,100 yuan.

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