MELBOURNE, Feb 23 (Reuters) - London copper prices eased on Friday and were heading for a small weekly drop as the dollar strengthened, but the outlook for demand looked bright due to healthy global economic growth. Trade was resuming slowly after Chinese markets reopened on Thursday following the Lunar New Year holiday, with consumers expected to return to the market in coming weeks to restock ahead of the seasonally strongest second quarter for demand. "We don't see Chinese customers pricing yet at these levels ... Many Chinese clients are still on holiday," said one trader. FUNDAMENTALS: * COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper had eased by 0.2 percent to $7,150 a tonne by 0708 GMT, after logging a small gain in the previous session. Shanghai Futures Exchange copper was up by 1.6 percent at 53,590 yuan ($8,434) a tonne. * DOLLAR: The dollar edged up against the yen and other currencies on Friday, trimming earlier losses, as global investors gingerly dipped their toes back into riskier assets amid rapidly shifting views on U.S. monetary policy. * SCRAP: Supporting the outlook for copper, China's scrap metal imports fell to the lowest level in nearly two years in January, as stringent new rules on foreign solid waste imports came into force at the start of the year. * Lower imports of copper scrap are supportive for copper prices because smelters will need to raise their feed of refined copper instead. * US ECONOMY: The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a near 45-year low last week, pointing to strong job growth in February and solid momentum in the economy. * RUSAL: Russian aluminium giant Rusal almost matched forecasts with a 42 percent jump in fourth-quarter core earnings on Friday, helped by higher aluminium prices, and said it saw a 5 percent increase in demand this year, pushing the market into a more than 2 million tonne deficit. * ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium edged up by 0.3 percent. Prices are down around 4 percent year to date with Chinafactories ramping up production as pollution-linked winter curtailments expire next month. * NICKEL: The global nickel market deficit narrowed to 12,400 tonnes in December from a restated 13,100 tonnes in the previous month, the International Nickel Study Group said on Thursday. * LME nickel fell 0.5 percent, while SHFE nickel rallied 2 percent amid volatile trade.