METALS-Shanghai copper near 3-month low on few buys, strong dollar
* Caution over central bank meetings, Friday U.S. jobs data
* Dollar near 6-1/2 month high; weighs on metals
* Coming Up: German industrial orders ; 1100 GMT
(Adds analyst, trader comment, updates prices) SINGAPORE, March 7 (Reuters) - London copper edged up on Thursday after data showed that the U.S. economy improved while Shanghai copper fell towards three-month lows as Chinese consumers ramp up slowly after the Lunar New Year break, and a stronger dollar weighed on purchases. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.44 percent to $7,723.50 a tonne by 0354 GMT, partly reversing losses from the previous session, when it fell one percent. LME copper prices are not far off last week's three-month lows of $7,652 a tonne, having shed more than seven percent from the year's high of $8,346 a tonne tipped around a month ago. The most-traded June copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 0.79 percent to 56,420 yuan ($9,100) a tonne. It hit its lowest since Nov. 23 at 56,060 yuan on Friday. "While the global environment is still hazy, markets appear to be betting on steadily improving growth," said Thomas Lam, chief economist at DMG & Partners Securities in Hong Kong. "It's steady as she goes for China," he said, adding that the Lunar New Year effect weakened China's manufacturing figures early this year and these should not be taken as a signal of the scale of this year's copper demand. DMG sees China's economy growing at 7.7 percent this year. China's new leadership meet this week and markets are closly watching their policy announcements for potential impact on metals demand. So far these include allowing more flexibility in the yuan's exchange rate and prioritising urbanisation. Asian shares fell after two strong days of gains on Thursday, as investors focused on meetings of the central banks of Japan, Britain and the euro zone for signs of more policy stimulus, while solid U.S. economic data underpinned the dollar. The dollar hovered near its highest in 6-1/2 months against a basket of major currencies after solid job data fuelled hopes the U.S. economy was improving. A stronger dollar makes commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for holders of other currencies. U.S. private employers hired more workers than expected in February and demand for a range of factory goods was solid in January, hopeful signs for the economy as it deals with higher taxes and deep government budget cuts. "Today's (jobs) print was positive and many will now be hoping for a better than forecast Nonfarm Payroll number at the end of the week," RBC Capital said in a note. "Should we see a downside surprise there, we would expect further selling interest in the market as shorts will no doubt continue to build."
CHINA BUILDS SUPPLY China is becoming less reliant on world markets for its copper supply, eroding its demand for metals. Codelco, the world's top copper producer, said it is slowly scaling back sales to top consumer China as Beijing becomes more self-sufficient through local production.
China's refined copper output hit its third consecutive record high in December as smelters rushed to fulfil 2012 targets, helping to boost full-year output 10.8 percent even as a slowing economy clipped demand. PRICES Base metals prices at 0354 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct Move YTD pct chg LME Cu 7723.50 33.50 +0.44 -2.59 SHFE CU FUT JUN3 56420 -450 -0.79 -2.18 HG COPPER MAY3 350.20 0.90 +0.26 -4.12 LME Alum 1961.00 8.00 +0.41 -5.31 SHFE AL FUT JUN3 14980 145 +0.98 -2.38 LME Zinc 1984.50 10.50 +0.53 -3.83 SHFE ZN FUT JUN3 15290 -255 -1.64 -1.64 LME Nickel 16590.00 65.00 +0.39 -3.29 LME Lead 2189.00 -3.00 -0.14 -6.45 SHFE PB FUT 14840.00 -15.00 -0.10 -2.69 LME Tin 23375.00 -95.00 -0.40 -0.11 LME/Shanghai arb^ -238
Shanghai and COMEX contracts show most active months
($1=6.2181 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)