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METALS-Copper falls on fears of coronavirus spread and strong dollar

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* Zinc hits lowest since July 2016 as supply grows

* Copper gives up early gains to slip for third session

* Lead flipped into surplus in December (Updates with official prices, adds aluminum and zinc news)

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Copper prices slipped on Thursday, weakened by fears that the coronavirus outbreak in China could spread globally and further dampen economic growth and metals demand.

Scores of new coronavirus cases and a first death in South Korea fanned fears of global pandemic as research suggested it could be more contagious than previously thought.

Copper was given an early fillip from an interest rate cut in top metals consumer China but later fell back into negative territory for a third session running, also weighed down by a stronger dollar.

"We've seen a lot of support coming from China's central bank and government, but there's worry about (the virus) spreading to other countries," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.

"Adding to this, we've seen the dollar move higher and a strong dollar in a world so loaded up on debt is a very bad cocktail for growth and demand."

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) fell 0.4% to $5,746 a tonne in official open-outcry trading after rising as much as 0.8% to $5,814.

Copper has repeatedly failed to break through resistance around $5,800.

* DOLLAR: The dollar index hit its highest since May 2017 and is now up more than 3.5% this year. The Japanese yen, meanwhile, slipped to its weakest in 10 months.

A stronger dollar makes commodities priced in the U.S. currency more expensive to buyers using other currencies.

* ALUMINIUM OUTPUT: Global primary aluminum output rose to 5.451 million tonnes in January from a revised figure of 5.439 million tonnes in December, data showed.

LME aluminum, untraded in official rings, was bid down 0.4% to $1,713 a tonne.

* LEAD/ZINC: The global zinc market's deficit rose to 23,100 tonnes in December, from a deficit of 200 tonnes in November, while the lead market flipped to a surplus of 8,000 tonnes in 2019, up from a deficit of 73,000 tonnes a year earlier.

* ZINC TC: A Japanese zinc smelter has agreed zinc concentrate treatment charges (TCs) of $300 a tonne for 2020 with a Western mining company, Chinese research house Antaike said. That is up from a 2019 benchmark of about $245 a tonne.

* ZINC SPREAD: The discount of LME cash ZINC over the three-month contract <CMZN0-3> rose to $16 a tonne, the highest since September 2018 and compared with a premium of $23.75 a month ago. This indicates healthy supplies of zinc in the LME system.

* PRICES: LME zinc fell 0.6% in official trading to$2,115 a tonne, its lowest level since July 2016. Nickel was bid down 0.4% to $12,770, lead was bid down 1.1% to $1,862 and tin rose 0.5% to trade at $16,600.

* For top stories in metals and other news, click or (Reporting by Eric Onstad Editing by Barbara Lewis and David Goodman)


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Since 2008, our customers have trusted us to provide guidance, education, and superior customer service as we help build their holdings in precious metals—no matter the size of the portfolio. Chairman, Eric Sprott, and President, Larisa Sprott, are proud to head up one of the most well-known and reputable precious metal firms in North America. Learn more about Sprott Money.

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