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METALS-Copper slumps for 5th day as U.S.-China dispute escalates

Peter Hobson

(Updates throughout, moves dateline from BEIJING/SINGAPORE)

LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell for a fifth day on Thursday as fear grew that a worsening confrontation between the United States and China will damage economic growth and demand for metals.

Other metals also fell -- with London Metal Exchange's (LME) index of six industrial metals down almost 10% from early April as the dollar strengthened to near two-year highs, making metals pricier for buyers with other currencies.

Benchmark LME copper, often seen as a bellwether for the health of the global economy, was down 0.5% at $5,896.50 a tonne at 1023 GMT.

Copper's break below $6,000 has worsened its technical picture and prices are the lowest since January.

"Prices will be dictated by the stronger dollar and the trade war and what this means global growth," said ING analyst Warren Patterson.

But he said if a trade deal was agreed, solid fundamentals would help copper recover to around $6,900 at the end of the year.

TRADE WAR: The U.S. blacklisting of China's Huawei has raised concerns that the trade conflict is morphing into a prolonged technology cold war.

British chip designer ARM halted relations with Huawei to comply with a U.S. blockade of the company, while the United States is considering similar sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision.

China's Commerce Ministry said the United States needs to correct its wrong actions if it wants to continue negotiations.

The U.S. military meanwhile sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait.

MARKETS/OIL: World share prices fell and oil prices slumped.

GERMANY: German business morale deteriorated more than expected in May and the country's export-oriented car industry will not see significant recovery, the Ifo institute said.

COPPER DEFICIT: The International Copper Study Group said this month the roughly 24 million tonne a year market would see shortfalls of 189,000 tonnes this year and 250,000 tonnes in 2020, potentially supporting prices.

CHILE: Coldelco's huge Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile is set for a 40% drop in production over the next two years, an internal forecast seen by Reuters shows.

SPREAD: The discount of cash copper to three-month metal on the LME has grown to around $30 a tonne, the highest since January, suggesting good supply of nearby metal. <MCU0-3>

COPPER SCRAP: China's imports of copper scrap rose 70% from March to 170,000 tonnes in April while alumina imports doubled to 60,000 tonnes, customs data showed.

CHINA PREMIUMS: Copper import premiums at $52 have risen from two-year lows of $47 earlier this month. <SMM-CUYP-CN>

OTHER METALS: LME aluminium was down 0.1% at $1,777.50 a tonne, zinc fell 1.2% to $2,511, nickel lost 1% to $11,865, lead slipped 0.7% to $1,788 and tin was 0.2% lower at $19,290.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Additional reporting by Tom Daly; editing by David Evans)