TOKYO, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Japanese aluminium buyers have agreed to pay producers a premium of $103 per tonne for metal shipped in the January-March quarter, reflecting higher spot premiums, five sources directly involved in the quarterly pricing talks said. The deals, an 8 percent to 10 percent rise from the $94-$95 per tonne premium in the previous quarter, mark the first increase in three quarters. Japan is Asia’s biggest importer of aluminium and the premiums for primary metal shipments it agrees to pay each quarter over the London Metal Exchange (LME) cash price set the benchmark for the region. The latest pricing negotiations began late last month between Japanese buyers and global producers, including Alcoa Corp , Rio Tinto , South32 Ltd and Rusal , with initial offers ranging between $110 and $118 a tonne, the sources said. But buyers sought lower prices of around $96-$105 a tonne, forcing some producers to compromise, the sources added. The sources all spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. Another buyer source said that the negotiations for the quarter ended on Friday. A source with a producer who declined to be identified said that producers settled on one price this time around. „This time, there was no higher or lower price,“ the source said.