NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Base metals opened higher in trading Thursday on the London Metal Exchange, the gains coming as Asian markets rose taking cues from the rally in U.S. equities on Wednesday.Base metals may continue to hold on to their gains as it is widely expected that the U.S. initial jobless claims and continuing claims data may be favorable. Initial jobless claims are expected to be 460,000, down 12,000 week on week, while continuing claims are expected to be 4.6 million, down 16,000. Copper Copper for delivery within three months gained 1.2% to $6,725 per metric ton in the early hours of trading on the LME. Copper inventories maintained by LME declined 0.5% to 439,350 tonnes, the lowest since Nov. 30. China's imports of unwrought copper and semi-finished copper products are expected to increase more than 7% to 430,000 tonnes in June, according to Reuters. Moreover, imports of refined copper by China, the world's largest copper consumer, may decline to 300,000-320,000 tonnes from 337,230 tonnes in May. Copper is expected to trade with positive gains during the day. Aluminum Aluminum for delivery within three months rose 0.7% to $2,000 per metric ton Thursday on the LME. Stockpiles maintained by LME added 4,700 tonnes. Primary aluminum imports by China in June might fall to 200,000 tonnes vs. 259,095 tonnes in May. On July 7, production at Rio Tinto's ( RTP) aluminum production line at Laterriere Works smelter in Quebec came to a halt after two electrical transformers failed. The line may be closed for as long as six months. Aluminum is expected to remain in positive territory during the day. Nickel Nickel for delivery within three months gained 0.8% Thursday to $19,300 per metric ton on the LME. Nickel inventories maintained by LME declined 0.4% to 121,716 tonnes. Inventories have fallen 10% during the last one month. The metal is expected to move in line with copper and aluminum. Zinc Zinc for delivery within three months increased 0.8% to $1,868 per metric ton in the early hours of trading Thursday on the LME. The metal closed flat in Wednesday's trade, with inventories falling marginally to 616,575 tonnes.
Lead Lead for delivery within three months rallied 1.4% to $1,820 per metric ton on Thursday on the LME, thereby continuing its positive streak for the seventh consecutive session. The metal gained 0.8% Wednesday, while inventories maintained by LME added 500 tonnes to close at 189,850 tonnes.