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METALS-Copper slides as China data dents demand prospects

Pratima Desai

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

* Premium for cash over 3-month lead around $8/T

* Nickel hits two-week high (Recasts, adds comment, changes dateline from Singapore)

LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Friday after weak manufacturing and investment data from top consumer China reinforced expectations of damage to growth and demand prospects from the protracted U.S.-China trade war.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.2% at $5,848 a tonne at 0955 GMT. Earlier in June, prices of the metal used widely in the power and construction industries fell to a five-month low at $5,740 a tonne.

"We were expecting the dispute to be settled by July, but there is a lot of political posturing and it now looks like it might go on into autumn," said SP Angel analyst John Meyer.

"It doesn't look as if there will be much relief for copper, though there will be support from supply side disruptions like Chuquicamata in Chile."

CODELCO: Union workers at Codelco's Chuquicamata copper mine, one of the world`s largest, said they would walk off the job on Friday after failing to reach a labor deal with Codelco, the world's top copper producer.

ACTIVITY: China's industrial output growth unexpectedly slowed to a more than 17-year low in May, while investment also cooled, in the latest sign of weakening demand.

Globally, demand for base metals is highly correlated with industrial production.

TRADE: Trade talks between the world's two largest economies collapsed last month, with U.S. President Donald Trump accusing China of watering down commitments it had made. Trump raised tariffs on Chinese goods and has threatened even more.

DEMAND: China accounts for around half of global copper demand, estimated at 24 million tonnes this year, while the United States consumes nearly 10%.

STOCKS: Rising copper stocks <MCUSTX-TOTAL> in LME approved warehouses -- at 252,425 tonnes and up 35% since late May -- are weighing on copper prices.

LEAD: Worries about lead supplies, mainly used to make auto batteries, have been fueled by Belgium-listed Nyrstar, which has halted output at its Port Pirie lead and zinc smelter in Australia and declared force majeure.

SPREADS: That worry is compounded by one company holding large amounts of lead on LME warrant and can be seen in the premium paid for nearby delivery.

The premium for cash over the three-month lead contract stands at around $8 a tonne from a discount at the end of May. Earlier this month it rose to 2-1/2 year highs above $40 a tonne.

Three-month lead was down 0.5% to $1,880 a tonne.

NICKEL: Prices of stainless steel ingredient nickel touched two-week highs at $12,065 a tonne on concern about supply from major producer Indonesia, where flooding has halted some mining operations.

It was last up 0.9% at $11,950 a tonne.

PRICES: Aluminium was down 0.7 percent at $1,774, zinc slipped 0.6 percent to $2,463 and tin lost 0.4% to $19,275 a tonne.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by Louise Heavens)