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METALS-Shanghai aluminum slips to 2-week low; nickel dives

(Adds comment, updates prices) BEIJING, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Shanghai aluminum prices fell on Friday, having hit a more than two-week low overnight on signs that stocks in top consumer China were rising again after a protracted drop over 2019, while nickel prices dived. Chinese aluminum inventories <0#SMM-ALINV climbed by 18,000 tonnes, or 3%, to 610,000 tonnes between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, according to industry data provider SMM. The Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) is due to report its own stocks data later on Friday. ShFE aluminum stocks AL-STX-SGH> were at 185,127 tonnes on Dec. 27, the lowest since February 2017, and fell more than 70% last year. Stocks tend to rise in the run-up to China's Lunar New Year holiday, which this year falls in late-January, as construction activity slows. "It is expected that aluminum inventories will continue to accumulate in January but aluminum prices will not fall sharply" given the build is coming from a low base, Huatai Futures said in a note.

FUNDAMENTALS

* ALUMINIUM: The most-traded February aluminum contract on the ShFE fell as much as 1.1% in night-time trading to 13,960 yuan ($2,004.57) a tonne, its lowest since Dec. 17, and stood at 14,000 yuan at the end of the morning session.

* ALUMINIUM: Three-month aluminum on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.2% at $1,800.50 a tonne as of 0405 GMT, heading for a weekly loss of 1.3%.

* ALUMINIUM: Chinese supply, meanwhile, continues to rise, with Henan Shenhuo Group putting its new smelter in Yunnan into production on Dec. 31.

* SPREADS: The discount of cash LME aluminum over the three-month contract <CMAL0-3> stood at $29.50 a tonne on Thursday, the steepest since September, implying weak near-term demand. However, there was a 400 yuan a tonne backwardation between the January and February contracts on the ShFE, pointing to immediate demand for restocking.

* NICKEL: The metal used to make stainless steel briefly crashed 3.4% to $13,690 a tonne in London before recovering to $13,945. ShFE nickel fell as much as 2% to 108,810 yuan a tonne, its lowest since Dec. 19.

* COPPER: LME copper was flat at $6,190.50 a tonne, on course for a 0.4% fall in the holiday-interrupted week, which would mark its first weekly fall in seven. In Shanghai, copper was down 0.5% at 49,010 yuan a tonne after hitting its lowest since Dec. 16.

MARKETS NEWS Asian shares extended their New Year's rally after Wall Street struck another record high.

PRICES 0415 GMT

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3 ($1 = 6.9641 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Tom Daly, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Shailesh Kuber)