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METALS-Copper steadies but demand doubts keep prices near two-year lows

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* Tin and zinc hit lowest since 2016
* Nickel up 50% this year
* Premium for cash nickel against 3-month contract at 10-year high
* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: (Updates with official prices) By Pratima Desai LONDON, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Copper prices steadied on Tuesday but remained near two-year lows on worries about damage to industrial activity and demand from the prolonged U.S.-China trade war. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was untraded at the close but bid up 0.9% at $5,682 a tonne.

Prices of the metal used widely in the power and construction industries touched $5,624.50 on Friday, its lowest since June 2017. "We're not seeing a rush for the life rafts in terms of bearishness, but there is too much uncertainty about how the trade war will pan out for companies to invest and hire," said BMO analyst Kash Kamal. "Economic data from major economies is weak and there was no meaningful progress on the trade war front at the G7 meeting to make a difference to sentiment in metals markets."

TRADE: U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday predicted a trade deal with China after positive gestures by Beijing, calming global markets that have been roiled by new tariffs from the world's two largest economies. The increasingly bitter trade dispute worsened on Friday, with both sides levelling more tariffs on each other's exports.

Trump announced an additional duty on $550 billion of targeted Chinese goods, hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. goods. DEMAND: China accounts for about half of global demand for base metals, which is highly correlated with industrial output. Industrial production in China grew 4.8% year on year in July, representing the slowest growth in 17 years. TIN: The price for tin fell to its lowest since May 2016 at $15,565 a tonne on sluggish demand from electronics companies, which use tin as solder, and the chemicals and battery industries. Three-month tin traded 0.9% down at $15,750 at the close. NICKEL: Prices of the stainless steel ingredient rose 0.3% to $15,700. Nickel has outperformed other base metals this year, soaring 50% on solid demand, technical trading and concern about supply disruptions. SPREADS: The premium for the cash contract over three-month nickel climbed to a 10-year high at $70 a tonne, up from a $10 discount only two weeks ago. The premium has been fuelled by worries over shortages on the LME market, where one company is holding between 50% and 79% of nickel warrants . This worry is reinforced by nickel stocks in LME-registered warehouses at 150,426 tonnes, about half the levels seen in May last year . ZINC: Prices of the metal used to galvanise steel gained 0.9% to $2,274 after touching its lowest since October 2016 at $2,221. PRICES: Aluminium slipped 0.5% to $1,760 while lead added 1.5% to $2,100. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Nickel prices ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Reporting by Pratima Desai Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey)

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