METALS-LME copper prices ease in holiday-thinned trade as dollar gains

(Adds detail, updates prices) MELBOURNE, Feb 19 (Reuters) - London metals started the week lower on Monday as a resurgent dollar dragged down prices from one-month highs hit the session before, while the Lunar New Year holidays reduced liquidity.


* COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper had slipped 0.8 percent to $7,189 a tonne by 0628 GMT, erasing small gains from the previous session when prices hit the highest since Jan. 15 at $7,253. Volumes were exceptionally light across base metals with around 1,000 lots of turnover.

* SHFE: The Shanghai Futures Exchange was closed for the Lunar New Year. Markets will reopen on Thursday, Feb. 22.

* DOLLAR: The dollar found some traction following last week's steep fall and managed to hold above a three-year low against a basket of currencies.

* INVESTORS: Hedge funds and money managers cut their net long positions in COMEX gold and copper contracts in the week to Feb. 13, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday. The dealers cut their net long position in copper by 17,690 contracts to 36,119 contracts, according to the CFTC data, the lowest since May.

* COPPER STOCKS: Refined copper remains in ample supply. Comex copper stocks have doubled from this time last year to more than 225,000 tonnes. <HG-STX-COMEX> LME stocks were also at nine-month highs, due to inflows earlier this month. <MCUSTX-TOTAL>. SHFE copper stocks were at the highest since August. <CU-STX-SGH>

* ALUMINIUM DUTIES: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross unveiled options on Friday for President Donald Trump to impose hefty steel and aluminium import restrictions ranging from global tariffs on all products from all countries to quotas based on previous exports to the United States.

* U.S. ECONOMY: U.S. homebuilding rose to a more than one-year high in January, boosted by strong increases in the construction of both single- and multi-family housing units, and further gains are likely with building permits surging to their highest since 2007.

* NOBLE: Nickel ore output in the Philippines, the world's top supplier, dropped 6 percent last year as several mines were under maintenance or temporarily closed due to environmental issues, the mines bureau said on Monday.

* ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium eased 1.5 percent after it closed 2 percent higher on Friday, supported by tightening spreads. Aluminium spreads have come under the most pressure since August reflecting tightening supply. The premium for cash over three-months widened to $10 as the major contract nears expiry, which is likely to trigger exchange deliveries. <CMAL0-3>

* OTHER METALS: Other metals were flat to lower, led by LME nickel, which fell 1.2 percent after posting a 7 percent rally last week.

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* Asian shares gained on Monday, joining a global recovery for equity markets as sentiment improved gradually from a recent shakeout that stemmed from fears of creeping inflation and higher borrowing costs.


No major releases on Monday


BASE METALS PRICES 0636 GMT Three month LME copper 7172 Most active ShFE copper 0 Three month LME aluminium 2174.5 Most active ShFE aluminium 0 Three month LME zinc 3550 Most active ShFE zinc 0 Three month LME lead 2595 Most active ShFE lead 0 Three month LME nickel 13735 Most active ShFE nickel 0 Three month LME tin 21750 Most active ShFE tin 0

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Joseph Radford)