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METALS-Base metal prices set for weekly gains as demand worries fade

(Adds comments, updates prices)

By Mai Nguyen

HANOI, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Base metals were set for weekly gains on Friday, as concerns about demand eased after softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data raised hopes of a less hawkish monetary policy.

Lead led the weekly gains, with its three-month contract on the London Metal Exchange up 6.7% as of 0524 GMT. The contract hit its highest since June 9 at $2,2210 a tonne on Friday.

LME copper gained 0.1% to $8,182 a tonne after having hit a six-week high in the previous session and was on track for a third weekly gain in four. Tin has risen 2.5% so far in the week, while zinc was set for a fourth straight week of gains.

In a red-hot inflation environment, weaker-than-expected U.S. consumer price data released earlier this week raised hopes of less aggressive rate hikes in the world's biggest economy, leaving room for more growth and metals demand.

A weaker dollar also helped metals prices - traded in the U.S. currency on the LME - by making them cheaper to holders of other currencies.

Meanwhile, Shanghai copper and nickel prices jumped, partly due to depleting exchange inventories and talks of China's state stockpiling of the two metals, which could further tighten their availability, said a Beijing-based metal analyst.

"The two-day rally of nickel was mainly driven by rumour of stockpiling," the analyst said, adding that prices would rise further if the government pursued the purchase.

Reuters could not verify the information.

The most-traded September nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange hit its highest since Aug. 1 at 183,500 yuan ($27,244.52) a tonne.

ShFE copper hit a six-week high of 62,920 yuan a tonne, lead advanced 1% to 15,315 yuan a tonne and tin jumped 3% to 204,620 yuan a tonne.

For the top stories in metals and other news, click or ($1 = 6.7353 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Subhranshu Sahu)

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