* Premium for cash over three-month lead at three-week high * Lead stocks hover near 10-year lows (Adds closing prices) By Pratima Desai LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Copper prices climbed to three-week peaks on Monday after top consumer China cut interest rates to offset the economic damage from the coronavirus, though worries over demand for industrial metals capped gains. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was untraded at the close but bid up 0.9% to $5,811 a tonne. The metal viewed by investors as a gauge of economic health earlier touched $5,828.50, its highest since Jan. 27. "Copper has recovered some lost ground, but metals markets are taking a more cautious view than equity markets," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke, adding that it would be difficult to translate economic stimulus into metals demand at this stage. "People are not working, so they are not making things to sell. The impact of the virus is going to be negative, but we don't know what the eventual cost will be." CHINA: China's central bank cut the interest rate on its medium-term lending to lower borrowing costs and ease financial strains on companies hit by the coronavirus. The People's Bank of China also said the country's lenders would tolerate a higher level of bad loans to support businesses hit by the epidemic, which has killed more than 1,700 people and infected about 70,550 in China. DATA: New home prices in China grew at their weakest pace in nearly two years in January as the economy slowed and the country's property market ground to a standstill. COPPER STOCKS: In a sign of stalled activity in China's manufacturing sector, base metal stocks in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange are rising. Copper stocks, at more than 262,000 tonnes, are at their highest since mid-March and nearly double the level on Jan. 19. EQUITIES: Global shares rose on the promise of further policy stimulus to counteract the economic impact of the coronavirus. China's finance minister said proactive fiscal policy will help to buffer downward pressure on the economy and that targeted, phased tax and fee cuts would be rolled out to help businesses. LEAD: Worries about nearby supplies on the LME market have pushed the premium for the cash contract over the three-month lead contractto a three-week high of nearly $24 a tonne. One reason behind that concern are stocks at historical lows and one company holding large amounts of warrants and cash contracts for the battery metal <0#LME-WHC>. Three-month lead ended flat at $1,873 a tonne. OTHER METALS: Aluminium was down 0.1% at $1,721 a tonne, zinc gained 1.1% to 2,172, tin added 0.4% to $16,600 and nickel rose 0.7% to $13,110. (Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey)
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