June 29, 2015 / 2:27 AM / 5 years ago

METALS-London nickel slides to six-year low; copper up

* LME copper higher as shorts rush to cover

* Nickel demand brightens, price could rise by end of year -UBS

* Coming up: EZ Business, economic sentiment for June at 0900 GMT (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE, June 29 (Reuters) - London nickel skidded to its lowest in six years on Monday, as risk aversion over Greece compounded selling pressure set off by weak stainless steel demand and chart-based sales.

Benchmark nickel traded on the London Metal Exchange sagged to $12,015 a tonne, having cracked support from mid-April, to its weakest since May 2009. It traded at $12,045 a tonne by 0749 GMT, down by 3.3 percent. ShFE nickel tumbled more than 4 pct.

“We’ve been bullish alongside many others, but I don’t think now is the time to abandon the case. LME inventory is dropping ... a few months more of robust China import trade and I can see price appreciation towards the end of the year,” said analyst Dan Morgan at UBS in Sydney.

Citi and JP Morgan issued bearish calls on nickel last week, citing weaker-than-expected demand from stainless steel users. But others, including Australia’s ANZ, have said that low prices offer value and represent a good time to buy, considering an ore export ban from Indonesia has curbed supply to China.

China’s imports of nickel and ferro nickel more than doubled on the year in May, while LME stocks have been falling since the start of June. [MTL/CHINA 4]

Other metals such as LME zinc, aluminium, lead and tin succumbed to risk-off selling, falling 1 percent or more, but LME copper bucked the trend, up half a percent as shorts rushed for cover, and supported by fresh stimulus out of China.

China’s central bank cut lending rates for the fourth time since November and trimmed the amount of cash that some banks must hold as reserves, stepping up efforts to support an economy that is headed for its poorest performance in a quarter century.

However, local share markets continued to correct, falling more than 3 percent on Monday as prospects for slowing growth and weaker prices ahead spurred investors to take profits.

Further out, signs that China’s property market has begun to stabilise should help put a floor under copper prices, added Morgan.

“It’s not a big case for massive price appreciation, but it’s nice support that the market is going to have for a while,” he said. China’s property market is a major consumer of copper. China accounts for 45 percent of global copper demand.

LME copper had risen 0.5 percent to $5,783 a tonne after a small loss in the previous session when it logged its first weekly advance in six weeks.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper jumped by 1.6 percent to 42,680 yuan ($6,874) a tonne.

Hedge funds and money managers upped a bearish bet on copper in the week ended June 23, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday.

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

$1 = 6.2093 Chinese yuan Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Sunil Nair

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