December 28, 2018 / 12:02 PM / 3 months ago

METALS-Copper ekes out first weekly gain in 5 weeks

(Updates with closing prices)

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Copper inched up on Friday for its first weekly rise in five weeks as gains on global equity markets rekindled interest in riskier assets and a weaker dollar made metal cheaper for buyers with other currencies.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) closed up 0.2 percent at $5,997 a tonne and around 0.2 percent higher for the week.

Still, concerns over slowing economic growth in China, the biggest metals consumer, have left copper down 17 percent over the year as a whole.

"We have a weaker dollar and equities rebounding, and that's likely lifting metals," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.

But weaker Chinese demand for copper meant prices would likely remain around current levels through next year, he added.

CHINA ECONOMY: China's manufacturing sector is expected to have contracted for the first time in more than two years in December, a poll found.

Data this week showed earnings at Chinese industrial firms in November dropped for the first time in nearly three years.

U.S.-CHINA TRADE: China and the United States plan face-to-face consultations on trade in January, the Chinese commerce ministry said. Worries that trade tariffs will curtail demand for metals have dragged prices lower this year.

DOLLAR/MARKETS: The dollar has weakened from its recent 18-month high against a basket of major rivals, easing pressure on metal prices, while global equities have regained some ground after a sell-off.

INDEX REBALANCING: A rebalancing of asset allocations by benchmark indexes in early January will see significant buying of aluminium, zinc and Comex copper, analysts at Citi said in a note.

CHINA TC/RCs: China's top copper smelters raised their floor treatment and refining charges for the first quarter of 2019 by 2.2 percent, sources said. Higher charges indicate a well-supplied copper concentrate market.

CHILE COPPER: Chilean miner Collahuasi - which produced an estimated 545,000 tonnes of copper this year - has applied for an environmental permit to extend the life of its deposit with an estimated $3.2 billion investment.

ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium ended down 0.4 percent at $1,845 a tonne and down more than 3 percent this week - the biggest weekly loss since October - after Russian producer Rusal agreed a deal to remove it from a U.S. sanctions list and appointed a new chairman.

ALUMINIUM SPREAD: Cash aluminium flipped from a discount to a $11.75 a tonne premium over the three-month contract CMAL0-3, likely signalling greater availability of nearby supplies.

OTHER METALS: LME zinc closed down 2.2 percent at $2,440 a tonne, nickel finished 0.4 percent lower at $10,730, lead gained 1.5 percent to $2,060 and tin rose 1 percent to $19,495.

Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Louise Heavens

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