* Zinc hits highest since 2007, nickel a near 3-year high
* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl
* LME/ShFE arb: bit.ly/2wZSAEz (Releads, updates with closing prices)
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Thursday as the dollar fell and concerns over inflation prompted a move into hard assets, sparking an early rally across base metals that also saw zinc hit its highest in more than a decade and nickel a near three-year peak.
Copper is on track for its biggest weekly gain since November 2016, up 6.3 percent so far on the back of optimism over global growth and weakness in the dollar, which benefits assets priced in the U.S. currency.
“We are seeing the strong performance as very much a continuation of the themes that have been ongoing - reflation trading, the move into hard assets, and dollar-based (strength),” ING analyst Oliver Nugent said.
The dollar slipped sharply on Wednesday after stronger than expected inflation data and a weak retail sales report, and extended losses on Thursday to slide back towards last month’s three-year low.
Stocks rallied as the dollar tumbled, with Wall Street’s main indexes trading higher as gains in technology and industrial stocks more than offset losses in energy shares.
* COPPER PRICES: London Metal Exchange copper closed up 0.3 percent at $7,182 a tonne, reversing earlier losses that took the metal to a session low of $7,125.50.
* COPPER SUPPLY: Chilean mining company Antofagasta received environmental approval for a major $1.1 billion revamp of its Los Pelambres copper mine, the regional government of Coquimbo said on Wednesday.
* ZINC: LME zinc ended the day up 0.1 percent at $3,570 a tonne, having earlier hit its highest since July 2007 at $3,595.50 a tonne.
* ZINC SPREADS: The premium for cash over three-month zinc CMZN0-3 slipped to $23.50 a tonne from a three-month high of $55.50 at the end of January, suggesting near-term tightness in the market is easing.
* NICKEL: Nickel finished at $14,150 a tonne, up 0.4 percent but off an earlier peak of $14,420 a tonne, its highest since May 2015. The metal, used in stainless steel, is set to be supported by strong Chinese demand and supply tightness.
* ALUMINIUM STOCKS: LME aluminium stocks MALSTX-TOTAL rose by 31,275 tonnes, adding to Tuesday’s 158,925-tonne increase. Stocks have climbed 187,250 tonnes so far this week, on track for their biggest weekly gain since May 2009.
* ALUMINIUM PRICES: Aluminium closed down 0.6 percent at $2,165 a tonne.
* CHINA HOLIDAY: The Shanghai Futures Exchange is closed from the evening session on Wednesday until Feb. 22, reducing trading activity and increasing price volatility.
* OTHER METALS: LME lead finished the day up 1.5 percent at $2,618 a tonne, while tin ended 0.1 percent higher at $21,570 a tonne.
Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and David Evans