* Lead hits seven month high
* Codelco rolls over physical premiums in Europe
* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates with closing prices)
By Eric Onstad
LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Copper prices drifted lower on Friday on concerns about weak global growth even though the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to near a 50-year low, while tight supply cushioned the fall.
Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) slipped 0.3% to $5,643 a tonne in final open outcry trading. Copper has declined for five sessions and shed 2.1% this week.
Earlier this week, data showed U.S. manufacturing activity plunged to a more than 10-year low in September, but data showed on Friday that U.S. job growth increased moderately in September.
“I think it is fair to say we are in a manufacturing recession globally, which is not really surprising if you look at the car market ... something that is holding back metals demand,” said analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer in Zurich.
“It’s all about demand at the moment, because if you look at the supply side for copper, we have some severe issues there, and aluminium supply is falling globally, which hasn’t happened in about 10 years.”
Copper is consumed widely in the power and construction sectors and often used to gauge global economic health. China, whose economy has been hurt by the prolonged trade war with the United States, accounts for around half of global copper demand.
* COPPER PREMIUM: The world’s biggest copper miner, Codelco, has agreed its 2020 physical copper premium to European buyers at $98 a tonne, the same level as for 2019, copper industry sources said on Friday.
* LEAD: LME lead gained 1.5% to close at $2,160 a tonne, the highest since March.
* NICKEL: Nickel prices climbed 0.9% to end at $17,790 a tonne, marking their first weekly gain in three, as headline inventories in LME-approved warehouses MNISTX-TOTAL dropped to 133,128 tonnes, their lowest since November 2012.
“The latest inventory reduction – stocks have been slashed by 20% since mid-September – is being attributed to Indonesia’s announcement that it will be re-introducing a nickel ore export ban from next year,” Commerzbank said in a note.
“Traders and consumers appear to be securing supply before this happens.”
* ALUMINIUM SPREAD: The discount of cash LME aluminium to the three-month contract CMAL0-3 has fallen to $13.75 a tonne, the lowest since May, indicating less availability of near-term supply in the LME system.
* ANTOFAGASTA: Chile’s Antofagasta, a major copper miner, negotiated on Thursday with workers hoping to stave off a strike at its small Antucoya deposit in Chile, though union leaders said there had been little progress in discussions.
* PRICES: LME aluminium edged up 0.1% to $1,719 a tonne in closing rings, zinc added 0.2% to $2,300, and tin finished unchanged at $16,475. Volumes were moderate as China is closed for a long holiday until Oct. 7.
* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or (Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Singapore; editing by Louise Heavens, Jason Neely and Deepa Babington)