METALS-Nickel strikes 1-yr highs as rally picks up speed

    BEIJING, July 18 (Reuters) - Shanghai nickel prices rose
more than 4% in early trade on Thursday to a one-year high,
extending a rally for the metal into a ninth day as speculators
continue to pile into the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
    Nickel, used to make stainless steel and batteries for
electric vehicles, is now up more than 30% since the start of
this year in Shanghai and is almost 37% higher in London.    
    * SHANGHAI NICKEL: The most traded August nickel contract on
the ShFE rose as much as 4.1% to 114,770 yuan
($16,692.85) a tonne, the highest since July 4, 2018, and stood
at 114,090 yuan as of 0155 GMT.
    * OPEN INTEREST: Market open interest in Shanghai nickel, a
measure of liquidity, rose to 604,806 lots on Wednesday, its
highest since April, and was up more than 50% since July 5. The
trading volume was approaching 800,000 lots, already well above
the 30-day average for a full day's trade.
    * LME NICKEL: Three-month nickel on the London Metal
Exchange shrugged off an early dip to move higher for a
seventh session. It gained as much as 1.5% to $14,665 a tonne,
its highest since July 3, 2018.    
    * COLUMN: Nickel jumps but fear of Indonesia export ban is
unfounded: Andy Home
    * COPPER: LME copper slipped 0.3% to $5,965 a tonne after
U.S.-China trade war concerns returned in the previous session.
ShFE copper fell 0.5% to 49,760 yuan a tonne. 
    * TC/RCs: China's top copper smelters meet in the city of
Hunchun on Thursday to set their floor treatment and refining
charges (TC/RCs) for the third quarter.
    * VEDANTA: Zambia expects nine companies to submit bids for
Konkola Copper Mines within weeks, mines minister Richard
Musukwa said, even as a court case with Mumbai-listed Vedanta
<VDAN.NS< over its ownership was underway.
    * OTHER METALS: Tin was the second-best performer, adding
1.7% in Shanghai and 1.1% in London.
    * ALUMINIUM: U.S. aluminium producer Alcoa says
global aluminium demand growth for 2019 is estimated to range
between 1.25%-2.25% and continues to project a global aluminium
deficit of 1 million-1.4 million tonnes this year. 
    * For the top stories in metals and other news, click       
    * Asian shares wobbled in early Thursday trading as Wall
Street stocks dropped on early signs that the U.S.-China trade
war could hurt corporate earnings, helping to underpin solid
demand for safe-haven U.S. Treasuries.
0130    Australia    Unemployment Rate         June
0830    UK             Retail Sales MM, YY        June
0830    UK             Retail Sales Ex-Fuel MM    June
1230    US             Initial Jobless Claims        Weekly
1230    US             Philly Fed Business Index     July       
 BASE METALS PRICES                       0155 GMT
 Three month LME copper                       5959
 Most active ShFE copper                     46740
 Three month LME aluminium                  1839.5
 Most active ShFE aluminium                  13820
 Three month LME zinc                       2471.5
 Most active ShFE zinc                       19380
 Three month LME lead                       2007.5
 Most active ShFE lead                       16415
 Three month LME nickel                      14585
 Most active ShFE nickel                    114090
 Three month LME tin                         18090
 Most active ShFE tin                       135950
($1 = 6.8754 Chinese yuan renminbi)

 (Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Richard Pullin)