Wires

METALS-Shanghai zinc drops as rising Chinese inventories stoke demand fears

(Adds comment, updates prices) BEIJING, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Shanghai zinc prices fell sharply on Tuesday, as a rise in Chinese inventories stoked demand concerns and prompted investors to go short on the metal used to galvanize steel. Industry data provider SMM's broader China survey showed 118,700 tonnes of zinc ingot were in storage as of Monday, up 5,400 tonnes from Friday. However, zinc inventories in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange <SMM-ZN-SHG> have almost halved in the fourth quarter. Many investors took short positions after the release of the latest data, a Beijing-based trader said. The most traded February zinc contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slumped as much as 1.6% to a near two-week low of 17,835 yuan ($2,544.51) a tonne. It stood at 17,905 yuan by the end of the morning session. Downstream zinc consumers have already scaled back purchases ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in China in late January, brokerage Jinrui Futures wrote in a note. "Furthermore, there is little smelter maintenance and domestic inventory has started to accumulate."

FUNDAMENTALS

* LME ZINC: London zinc prices were 0.1% higher at $2,294 a tonne by 0512 GMT, after slipping as much as 0.4% earlier in the session and ending down 2.1% on Monday.

* TCs: Treatment charges for zinc concentrate in China <AM-TC50-ZNCON> have hit as high as $310 a tonne this month, the highest since June 2008 amid plentiful ore supply, incentivising smelters to keep producing metal.

* COPPER: LME copper edged down 0.1% to $6,183 a tonne in quiet pre-holiday trade, while Shanghai copper added 0.3% to 49,160 yuan a tonne.

* SCRAP: China's environment ministry has issued import quotas for 270,885 tonnes of high-grade copper scrap and 275,465 tonnes of aluminum scrap, the first batch for use in 2020. China's scrap metal imports in November rose by 6.3% from the previous month to 170,000 tonnes. 1/8

* HOLIDAY: The London Metal Exchange will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday for the Christmas holiday.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or

MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares and U.S. stock futures darted in and out of losses, as the holiday lull offset optimism that a U.S.-China trade deal will boost exports and corporate earnings.

DATA/EVENTS AHEAD (GMT) 1330 U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia issues nonmanufacturing business outlook survey for December

PRICES 0513 GMT

3

3

3

3

3

($1 = 7.0132 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Aditya Soni)