December 27, 2018 / 11:08 AM / 5 months ago

METALS-Copper recovers, but others slip as China worries weigh

* Nickel hits 14-month low, aluminium at 20-month nadir

* China industry earnings fall for first time in nearly 3 years

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates with closing prices)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Copper prices recovered on Thursday, but gains were capped and other metals slipped on renewed worries about global growth, including in top metals consumer China.

A global equity rally fuelled by a dramatic surge on Wall Street ran out of steam on Thursday after a fall in Chinese industrial profits offered a reminder of the pressures on the world economy.

“It seems like sentiment in the markets overall is bearish, but I think we just saw some short-covering yesterday,” said Carsten Menke, commodities research analyst at Julius Baer in Zurich.

“It’s ‘metals-light’ growth — consumption in the United States rather than construction in China, which is what we’re looking for in 2019, so there’s really no reason to become optimistic for base metals.”

Earnings at China’s industrial firms in November dropped for the first time in nearly three years, data showed on Thursday, in a sign of rising risks to the world’s second-largest economy.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.5 percent in closing open outcry trading to $5,986.50 per tonne after hitting $5,941 a tonne on Monday, its weakest since Sept. 18.

* NICKEL: A global nickel market deficit will nearly halve to 49,000 tonnes in 2019 from 93,000 tonnes this year on higher output of primary metals by global suppliers and of lower-grade nickel pig iron (NPI) in Indonesia, Sumitomo Metal Mining said on Tuesday.

LME nickel shed 1.1 percent to end at $10,770 per tonne after touching $10,700, its weakest since October 2017.

* RUSAL: Russian aluminium company Rusal said that the board chairman resigned as part of a restructuring it agreed to implement in exchange for a waiver from U.S. sanctions.

The move to lift Rusal sanctions has weighed on prices due to concern about additional supply. LME aluminium slid 2.2 percent to finish at $1,851.50 a tonne, the lowest since March 9, 2017.

* ALUMINIUM SPREAD: The cash aluminium contract moved to a $7.80 a tonne premium to the three-month contract CMAL0-3, the highest premium since July and contrasting a discount of $18.25 seen two weeks ago. This usually indicates tighter supply of nearby supplies.

* COPPER STOCKS: On-warrant LME copper inventories MCUSTX-TOTAL have gained 43 percent so far in December, data showed on Thursday, indicating better availability of supply.

* PRICES: LME zinc gained 0.9 percent to close at $2,495 a tonne, lead climbed 2.2 percent to finish at$2,029 and tin fell 0.4 percent to $19,300.

Reporting by Eric Onstad, editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely

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