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METALS-Lead hits 2-1/2 month low on firm dollar and weak shares

* LME/ShFE arb: http://bit.ly/2wZSAEz

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Adds analyst comment, updates prices, changes dateline from BEIJING)

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Lead prices touched their lowest in 2-1/2 months on Thursday, with other industrial metals also slumping under pressure from a stronger dollar and risk-off sentiment that also hit global equities.

"Metals are following the macro trends, especially the U.S. dollar and U.S. equity markets, and mostly ignoring the micro elements, which remain pretty supportive," said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, partner at consultancy T-Commodity in Milan.

World stock markets fell for the third day running while the dollar rose to six-week highs against a basket of currencies before the second leg of U.S. Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell's testimony to lawmakers later on Thursday.

A stronger dollar makes metals more expensive for holders of other currencies.

"This sell-off is healthy, reducing the length in the market, which was pretty extreme. We're a small short on the market, but we think the downside will be limited," Torlizzi added.

The downtrend is likely to last for another week or so and there would soon be opportunities to go long again, he said.

* LEAD: Benchmark lead on the London Metal Exchange was down 1.9 percent at $2,455.50 a tonne by 1123 GMT, its weakest since Dec. 11. Lead was the biggest LME faller on Wednesday, retreating by 2.9 percent after LME inventories jumped by 12 percent.

* CHINA: The market largely shrugged off positive data from the private Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for February, which beat expectations to reach its highest in six months. A day earlier China's official factory activity reading raised concerns of a sharper than expected slowdown.

"We continue to think that both PMIs are overstating the strength of the economy," Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

"We expect prices to drop back further as economic growth slows in response to tighter credit conditions."

* NICKEL: LME nickel was the biggest decliner on the LME on Thursday, falling 2.2 percent to $13,495 a tonne. "A stainless steel inventory overhang contributes to bearish (Chinese) onshore sentiment," Marex Spectron's Alastair Munro said in a note.

* COPPER: Three-month LME copper shed 0.7 percent to $6,882 a tonne, its weakest since Feb. 13.

* COPPER MINE: News of additional supply weighed on copper. The Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia will lift force majeure effective March 1 and is expected to make up any sales-related effects over the next few quarters.

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(Additional reporting by Tom Daly in Beijing Editing by David Goodman)