LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Nickel hit its weakest since January on Tuesday, leading London metals lower as concerns over rising trade tensions between China and the United States benefited the dollar. Benchmark nickel slipped 1.6 percent to $12,580 per tonne by 1020 GMT, at its lowest since Jan. 19 and on track for its fifth straight session of declines. U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to ramp up the trade war by imposing tariffs on $200 billion more of Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends this week. “Market participants are waiting on the sideline for more comments from Trump probably announcing new tariffs on Chinese imports,” said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann. “In addition, there is concern that the smouldering crisis in emerging markets will weigh heavily on metals prices because so far the EMs are a big driver of metals demand.” The dollar’s status as chief reserve currency makes it the primary beneficiary of concerns over trade conflicts, causing commodities priced in the greenback to be more expensive for holders of other currencies. Meanwhile, emerging market currencies have been hit as investors feared these export-oriented economies would be caught in the middle of any escalating trade conflict.

NICKEL: Prices are “weighed down by an increase in nickel ore inventory at China and rising stainless steel inventory,” Argonaut Securities wrote in a note.

TANGSHAN: There are market expectations that the city of Tangshan, China’s leading steelmaking hub, could introduce new output cuts in September to curb harmful emissions, which has buoyed priced for Shanghai rebar steel.

ALUMINIUM PRODUCERS: Two global aluminium producers have offered Japanese buyers lower premiums for primary metal shipments for the October to December quarter, sources said on Tuesday.

ALCOA STRIKE: A vote by striking workers at Alcoa’s giant west Australian operations will close on Thursday, with the union anticipating a strong “no” vote that could prolong the four-week old strike.

CHINA ALUMINIUM: The city of Binzhou in eastern China’s Shandong province, home to top aluminium producer China Hongqiao Group, is planning five new projects to support development of a high-end aluminium industry, according to a local government document.

CODELCO: Chilean state miner Codelco halted the operations of three out of four furnaces at its Ventanas copper foundry on Monday after finding high levels of sulphur dioxide.

OTHER METALS: Copper eased 1.6 percent to $5,873 per tonne, aluminium fell 0.5 percent to $2,087, zinc slipped 1.1 percent to $2,435.50, lead shed 0.6 percent to $2,107 while tin lost 0.4 percent to $18,770.