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METALS-Aluminium hits 16-month low on demand woes, copper eases

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(Adds official midday prices, details) By Maytaal Angel LONDON, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Aluminium hit 16-month lows on Monday as investor worries over slowing global growth and tightening monetary conditions overshadowed news of smelter cuts in China, while copper extended four straight weeks of losses. Chinese aluminium producers are set to cut at least another 800,000 tonnes per year of smelting capacity in the coming months, while Beijing plans to ratchet up support for the economy in 2019 by cutting taxes and keeping liquidity ample. Investors are however fretting that the global economy is slowing just as monetary conditions the world over are tightening, with political instability in the United States leaving open the possibility of a prolonged government shutdown. There are also signs the U.S. trade dispute with China is hurting growth in the world's top metals consumer.

"At the moment there are too many headwinds on the demand side for people to be concerned about supply," said Colin Hamilton, head of commodities research at BMO Capital Markets.

However, he added that the global aluminium market had a reasonably substantial deficit, while Beijing has made it clear it wants to see more consolidation in China's aluminium sector.

* ALUMINIUM: Aluminium traded down 0.5 percent in rings at $1,899 a tonne, having hit its lowest since mid-July at $1,891, extending last week's 16-month lows after the U.S. lifted sanctions on Russia's Rusal, the world's second-largest aluminium producer. The metal is heading for 16 percent falls this year.
* CHINA CUTS: "Capacity reduction will help to support aluminium prices... But the scale of price rebound will depend on the actual implementation of the cuts," said analysts from CITIC Futures in a note.
* COPPER STOCKS: Stocks in LME-registered warehouses are near 10-year lows, suggesting supplies are tight, but the proportion not yet earmarked for delivery has almost doubled since the end of October. Copper traded down 0.5 percent in rings at $5,960, heading for falls of 18 percent this year.
* GLOBAL MARKETS: World stocks were set for their seventh straight session of losses, with the S&P 500 on track for its worst December since the Great Depression.
* LEAD TECHNICALS: Lead was last bid up 0.8 percent in rings at $1,980 a tonne, with signs of nearby market tightness emerging as cash lead traded at a premium of $2 a tonne to the 3 month price, its highest since mid-October.
* OTHER METALS: Zinc traded down 1 percent in rings at $2,480 a tonne, tin was last bid up 0.1 percent at $19,375 while nickel was last bid up 0.2 percent at $10,900.

(Additional reporting by Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Louise Heavens)

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