BEIJING, April 16 (Reuters) -

China's primary aluminium output in March rose 7.4% from last year, official data showed on Tuesday, as rising prices of the metal spurred by higher demand boosted industry profits.

The world's biggest aluminium producer churned out 3.59 million metric tons of primary aluminium in March, according to the data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The price rally driven by higher demand underpinned increased operations in some main producing regions. Prices were also supported by concerns over supply uncertainty in the southwestern province of Yunnan, a key producing area.

Last month, China's manufacturing activity

expanded for the first time

in six months, supporting demand for aluminium which is used widely for car, housing and packaging production.

The most-traded aluminium contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 3.4% in March.

The benchmark aluminium contract on the London Metal Exchange also rose 4.1% last month.

The price rally raised average profit margins for the industry to 2,444 yuan ($337.79) per ton in March, 24% higher than February and 86% higher than the same month last year, according to research house Antaike.

For the first three months of 2024, China produced 10.69 million tonnes of aluminium, a rise of 6.8% from the same period last year, the NBS data showed.

The production of ten nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel – rose 7.1% from a year earlier to a record 6.67 million tonnes from a year earlier.

Year-to-date output was up 7.0% at 19.45 million tonnes, the data showed. The other non-ferrous metals are tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium. ($1 = 7.2353 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Siyi Liu and Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Christian schmollinger)