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METALS-Copper falls for first week in three while nickel rises

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* LME/ShFE arb:
* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: (Updates with official prices) By Jan Harvey LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - Copper fell on Friday, heading for its first weekly loss in three as uncertainties over the outlook for global growth and this week's burst of dollar strength weighed on prices.

Aluminium steadied after two days of losses, however, and nickel jumped more than 1 percent on expectations that rising numbers of electric vehicles would boost the metal's demand profile.

"Right now we are in a bit of a vacuum, trying to figure out the direction of global growth," said Danske Bank analyst Jens Pedersen.

"We have seen some softening of (manufacturing data) of late, so the question is whether it was just a soft first quarter or whether we are heading for a more mature cyclical downturn." While he was confident that manufacturing growth would pick up, Pedersen said that uncertainties remain over the China-U.S. trade dispute, the geopolitical situation and the dollar outlook.

"If the dollar continues to rise, which we don't expect, it would usually take its toll on commodity prices," he said.

* COPPER: LME copper was down 0.9 percent in official midday trading at $6,817 a tonne, on track to end the week down 1.7 percent.

* SPREADS: The spread between copper for immediate delivery and the three-month contract pulled back to its narrowest since October at $23 a tonne, down from $39 a tonne earlier this week, suggesting some tightening in the market.

* ALUMINIUM SPREADS: In aluminium, the spread between the same contracts held in backwardation - a forward curve structure indicative of market tightness, into which it flipped at the start of the week - to the tune of $10 a tonne. Particular tightness in the curve was seen in the July to August spread, which was last trading in a $24 backwardation.

* ALUMINIUM PRICES: Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was untraded in official rings and was last bid at $2,293 a tonne, unchanged from Thursday's close.
* ALUMINIUM STOCKS: Data on Friday showed on-warrant aluminium stocks in warehouses certified by the London Metal Exchange - those not earmarked for delivery, and thus available to the market - fell 28,725 tonnes after surging by 153,075 tonnes earlier in the week.

* FINANCIAL MARKETS: The dollar hit a five-month high against a basket of currencies, buoyed by a further rise in U.S. Treasury yields that suggests an upbeat outlook for the world's largest economy.
* NICKEL PRICES: LME nickel , also untraded in official rings, was last bid up 1.4 percent at $14,800 a tonne. "Discussions out of LME Week Asia have ... been positive, with the focus on the rising impact of the electric vehicle market boosting sentiment," ANZ said in a note.

OTHER METALS: LME zinc was down 0.4 percent in official trading at $3,083.50 a tonne. Lead and tin were both untraded in rings but were last bid 1 percent lower at $2,350 a tonne and 0.4 percent lower at $20,575 a tonne respectively.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Top Base and Precious Metals Analysis - GFMS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. in Manila Editing by David Goodman)

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