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METALS-London copper faces small weekly loss, demand to rise

MELBOURNE, Feb 23 (Reuters) - London copper eased on Friday and was headed for a small weekly drop as the dollar gained steam this week on rising expectations of U.S. interest rate hikes, but prospects of demand were rosy given a healthy outlook for global economic growth.

FUNDAMENTALS

* LME: London Metal Exchange copper eased by 0.3 percent to $7,144 a tonne by 0136 GMT, after logging a small gain in the previous session.

* SHFE: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper was up by 1.4 percent at 53,530 yuan ($8,434) a tonne.

* DOLLAR: Support came from the dollar which sagged broadly on Friday after its recovery this week faded as U.S. Treasury yields declined from their recent peaks. A weaker dollar supports metals by making them more affordable for buyers using other currencies.

* The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a near 45-year low last week, pointing to strong job growth in February and solid momentum in the economy.

* ALUMINIUM: Russian aluminum giant Rusal almost matched forecasts with a 42 percent jump in fourth-quarter core earnings on Friday, helped by higher aluminum prices, and said it saw a 5 percent increase in demand this year, pushing the market into a more than 2 million tonne deficit.

* LME aluminum edged up by 0.3 percent. Prices are down around 4 percent YTD with China factories ramping up production as pollution-linked winter curtailments expire next month.

* NICKEL: LME nickel fell 0.5 percent, while SHFE nickel rallied nearly 2 percent amid volatile trade.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares rebounded on Friday as comments from a Federal Reserve official eased worries that the central bank might raise rates more aggressively this year, while the safe-haven yen held on to its gains amid heightened volatility across markets.

DATA AHEAD (GMT) 0700 Germany Detailed GDP Q4 1000 Euro zone Inflation final Jan PRICES

BASE METALS PRICES 0043 GMT Three month LME copper 7144 Most active ShFE copper 53520 Three month LME aluminum 2191 Most active ShFE aluminum 14280 Three month LME zinc 3518 Most active ShFE zinc 26665 Three month LME lead 2546.5 Most active ShFE lead 19400 Three month LME nickel 13785 Most active ShFE nickel 104830 Three month LME tin 21425 Most active ShFE tin 147130

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 715.2 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1873.65 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 178.14 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 -205.59 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1468.89

($1 = 6.3470 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)