Zinc Snaps Longest Slump in 25 Years on Tight Supply Bets

Zinc climbed, snapping the longest losing streak since at least January 1989, on speculation that demand in China will curb global supplies.

The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange rose as much as 0.9 percent, the most since Jan. 15, to $1,969 a metric ton and was at $1,967.75 at 3:42 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal, used to rust-proof steel, fell 6.6 percent for 10 sessions through yesterday.

Zinc has lost 9.6 percent in the past year, the smallest drop among the six main metals on the LME. Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co., Japan’s top zinc producer, raised annual charges to overseas buyers by as much as 70 percent amid rising Chinese consumption, up from a 15 percent gain last year. A global deficit will widen this year, with the average cash price to rise 10 percent, Morgan Stanley said in a report on Jan. 22.

“Current tight supplies in Asia pushed the metal higher,” said Tetsu Emori, a senior fund manager at Astmax Asset Management Inc. in Tokyo. “It’s also a technical rebound.”

Stockpiles monitored by the LME dropped 0.6 percent to 845,425 tons, the lowest since February 2012, exchange data showed yesterday. Of the total, stockpiles held in Asia were 30,725 tons, or 3.6 percent, according to the data.

Copper in London added 0.3 percent to $7,062 a ton. LME inventories slipped for a 10th day to 313,275 tons, the least since December 2012, bourse data showed. Orders to remove the metal from warehouses rose 1 percent to 187,125 tons.

The contract for March delivery gained 0.5 percent to $3.2065 a pound on the Comex in New York. Markets in China are closed through Feb. 6 for Lunar New Year holidays.

On the LME, aluminum, nickel and lead also advanced, while tin was little changed.