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METALS-Copper slides as nerves about China demand surface

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* LME copper stocks below 200,000 tonnes, halved since March
* LME aluminium stocks below 1 million, halved since Jan 2017
* Worries about alumina shortages ease a touch (Updates with official prices) By Pratima Desai LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Copper prices dipped on Monday after weak manufacturing data from top consumer China caused nervousness about demand, but falling inventories in London Metal Exchange-approved warehouses helped support sentiment. Benchmark copper on the LME traded down 1.5 percent at $6,162.50 a tonne in official rings. "There's a tug of war going on between the Chinese data, which shows manufacturing stalling, and copper stocks," a fund manager at a natural resources fund said. "LME stocks have been on a downtrend for some time, falling below 200,000 tonnes." CHINA: Growth in China's manufacturing sector stalled in September as external and domestic demand weakened, two surveys showed on Sunday, in a sign U.S. tariffs are inflicting a heavy toll on the economy. DEMAND: China accounts for nearly half of global demand estimated at 24 million tonnes this year. STOCKS: Copper inventories in LME warehouses at 199,125 tonnes have nearly halved since late March and are at their lowest since December last year. WARRANTS: Cancelled warrants - material earmarked for delivery - at more than 50 percent of total LME stock and a large holding of copper warrants at between 50 and 79 percent are also worrying for users of the exchange. SPREADS: Concern about nearby shortages on the LME market have created a premium for the cash over the three-month contracts in recent days. The premium, at around $6 a tonne, rose above $16 a tonne in September from a discount of more than $40 in August. ALUMINIUM STOCKS: The market is also concerned about aluminium stocks on the LME market, which at 987,800 tonnes have more than halved since January last year and are at their lowest since early 2008. ALUMINA: Unionised workers at aluminium producer Alcoa's Western Australian operations agreed on Friday to end a strike that lasted more than six weeks after securing better job security provisions in a new wage agreement. This has eased concerns about alumina supplies, a key ingredient for aluminium production. But ongoing output cuts at a Norsk Hydro alumina refinery in Brazil still mean potential shortages. Aluminium was up 0.1 percent at $2,064 a tonne.

ZINC: Operations at Trevali Mining Corp's Santander zinc mine in Peru have fully resumed after a road blockade suspended delivery of supplies, the company said on Friday. ACTIVITY: Traders expect subdued activity this week due to Chinese holidays. PRICES: Zinc was down 1.4 percent at $2,576, lead fell 0.7 percent to $2,022, tin rose 0.3 percent to $18,925 and nickel fell 1.5 percent to $12,410 a tonne.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Top base and precious metals analysis - GFMS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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