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METALS-Copper slips from key level; set for fifth straight weekly jump

the Shanghai Futures Exchange <AL-STX-SGH> fell by 11.2% from

(Adds Shanghai closing prices, stocks data; updates London prices) BEIJING, Dec 20 (Reuters) - London copper prices tracked Asian equity markets lower on Friday, falling below a key closing level breached for the first time in over seven months in the previous session, but were set for their fifth straight weekly gain on easing Sino-U.S. trade tensions. The metal widely used in construction and power is on course to add 0.9% this week and is up 3.7% so far this year. "Most metal prices have received a boost so far in December, largely on the back of more positive trade war rhetoric as well as improving macroeconomic data coming from China and the U.S.," Fitch Solutions said in a note. "Nevertheless, we have maintained our copper price forecast at an average of $5,700/tonne in 2020, down from $6,000/tonne in 2019, as we believe global macroeconomic concerns will hold strong next year and hamper sentiment for metals," it added.

FUNDAMENTALS

* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.5% at $6,183 a tonne by 0710 GMT, after ending 0.7% higher at $6,215 on Thursday, its highest close since May 3. It had first breached the key $6,200 level on Dec. 13. The most-traded February copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended flat on 49,030 yuan ($6,988.81) a tonne.

* TRADE: China and the United States are in touch over the signing of their Phase 1 trade deal, China's commerce ministry said, which will see lower U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods and higher Chinese purchases of U.S. farm, energy and manufactured goods.

* LENDING: China maintained a status quo on its lending benchmark rate on Friday, as expected, after the central bank kept borrowing costs of medium-term loans steady earlier this month.

* ALUMINIUM: Shanghai aluminium rose for a fourth straight day, hitting its highest since Sept. 16, as low inventories raise supply concerns, before closing up 0.1% at 14,175 yuan a tonne. The metal logged a 1.7% weekly jump, its biggest since August. LME aluminium rose 0.1% to $1,799 a tonne.

* SHFE STOCKS: Aluminium inventories in warehouses monitored the previous week to 193,820 tonnes, the exchange said on Friday. That is their lowest level since February 2017. Copper stocks rose by 10.1%.

* RARE EARTHS: The U.S. military plans to stockpile rare earth magnets used in Javelin missiles and F-35 fighter jets, according to a government document seen by Reuters, a step that critics say does little to help create a domestic industry to build specialized magnets now made almost exclusively in Asia.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares snoozed near 18-month highs as trade thinned in the run-up to Christmas and investors seemed content to digest the chunky gains already made so far this month.

PRICES

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

3

3

3

3

3

($1 = 7.0155 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Aditya Soni and Rashmi Aich)