Copper prices rose overnight alongside Chinese equities, supported by expectations of further economic stimulus in the world’s biggest consumer, although sentiment remained fragile because of the US-China trade dispute.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended up 0.1 per cent at $US5,960 a tonne.

Prices of the metal used in power and construction are down about seven per cent this month.

“The sell-off throughout most of May has very much been driven by weak sentiment, mostly hinging on the US-China trade war,” said BMO Capital Markets analyst Kash Kamal.

“The exchange price isn’t really reflecting the tight fundamentals for both refined metal and concentrates, and LME stocks have been drifting down through May.”

An escalation of trade tensions between China and the United States could trigger further monetary and fiscal easing by Chinese authorities to support growth.

China accounts for nearly half of global demand for industrial metals.

Base metals markets are looking ahead to Chinese manufacturing PMIs, particularly for new orders and export components, to gauge demand prospects over the coming months.

Chinese shares closed higher on Tuesday, partly because of a leading regulatory official downplaying the impact of the trade war.

The copper market is expected to have a 205,550 tonne deficit this year and 172,000 tonnes in 2020, according to the average forecast in a recent Reuters survey.

According to the International Copper Study Group the deficit last year was 387,000 tonnes.

Stocks of copper in LME-approved warehouses – at 185,575 tonnes – have fallen nearly 20 per cent since May 7.

Those in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange – at 172,266 tonnes – are down 35 per cent since March 17.

Upside resistance for copper stand at $US6,000, followed by a Fibonacci retracement level of $US6,503.

Large holdings of LME zinc warrants and historically low LME stocks have fuelled worries about a tight LME market.

This is illustrated by the premium for cash zinc over the three-month contract.

The premium closed at $US161 a tonne on Friday, its highest since September 1997.

Three-month zinc closed up 0.1 per cent higher at $US2,562.

Aluminium rose 0.4 per cent to $US1,807, lead was unchanged at $US1,825, tin was down 0.5 per cent at $US19,200 and nickel was trading 1.9 per cent lower at $US12,115 in electronic trading.

SHFE is exploring ways to open up its non-ferrous metals futures contracts to foreign investors and has a rough timeline to give access within two years, its chairman said on Tuesday.