METALS-Nickel retreats from 2-1/2 year high, supply woes underpin

* GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

* LME/ShFE arb: http://bit.ly/2wZSAEz (Adds official midday prices, details)

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Nickel fell on Thursday as traders took profits after pushing the metal to its highest level in 2-1/2 years in the previous session, but falls were limited by concerns about dwindling stocks and production outages.

Four nickel mines in the Philippines, a key nickel exporter, remain shut on environmental grounds, an official said, while Japan's Sumitomo Corp suspended output at a mine in Madagascar following a cyclone.

Nickel stocks in Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouses stood at 48,920 tonnes as of Jan. 5 versus over 90,000 tonnes a year ago. London Metal Exchange nickel stocks at 368,292 tonnes <MNISTX-TOTAL> are down from levels above 470,000 tonnes in June 2015, but double levels seen in May 2013.

"There's good demand (for nickel) coupled with some supply tightness coming through because of mine closures in the Philippines. The market is in a deficit and that will continue," said Robin Bhar, analyst at Societe Generale.

"We should continue to hold in the $10,000-13,000 range with a bias on the upward path of that range," he said.


* NICKEL: Benchmark nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was last bid down 0.5 percent at $12,870 a tonne, having touched $13,200 on Wednesday, its highest since June 2015.

* POSITIONING: Funds have ramped up bets on higher prices, doubling their net long position in LME nickel from a low in December to 29,746 contracts as of Jan. 5. <LME-NI-MNET>

* PHILIPPINES: "The four mines in Zambales are still not allowed to resume production," said Wilfredo Moncano, director of the Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau. "No extraction, no new mining activities."

* DOLLAR: The dollar recouped some losses after China's regulator dismissed a report that the country could halt buying U.S. treasuries, boosting the greenback following its biggest one-day fall in a month.

* COPPER: Copper traded up 0.1 percent in rings at $7,160 a tonne.

* COLUMN: Copper faces double supply disruption threat in 2018.

* ZINC: Zinc traded up 1.8 percent at $3,395, near a more than decade high hit earlier this week at $3,400.

* ALUMINIUM: Aluminium traded up 0.4 percent in rings at $2,190 a tonne, recovering from a low of $2,149.50 on Jan. 9.

"This was a metal that you couldn't give away 36 hours ago but now it seems the selling from the index rebalancing is viewed as very digestible," said broker Marex Spectron.

* OTHER METALS: Lead was last bid up 0.6 percent at $2,565 while tin traded up 0.4 percent at $20,150.

(Additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Edmund Blair and David Evans)