METALS-Copper falls on firmer dollar, looming China GDP data
* Market waiting for China GDP data on Monday
* Dollar firms after sell-off on Thursday
* Copper supply disruptions diminish
LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) - Copper fell on Friday as the dollar firmed and as traders cut risk ahead of Chinese data next week, but the metal remained on track for the biggest weekly gain in two months after the U.S. signalled it would keep monetary policy loose.
This week's rally in financial markets has spread across stocks and bonds to oil and metals and been driven by hints from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it may not be as eager to phase out its support as markets had started to believe.
But caution set in again on the metals market on Friday, as concerns about demand for metals in top consumer China resurfaced after dismal trade data this week, and ahead of gross domestic product (GDP) data due on Monday.
Three-month copper futures on the London Metal Exchange had eased 0.7 percent to $6,948 by 1016 GMT, paring gains of 2.6 percent in the session before.
Copper hit the highest since June 18 on Thursday at $7,049.25 a tonne, and is on course to close the week up around 2 percent, the biggest weekly gain in more than two months.
"The Fed got their message across that tapering isn't imminent. That was yesterday's story," BNP Paribas analyst Stephen Briggs said.
"The focus now returns to China. Clearly the market's view is that the slowdown in China is quite a substantial one, and China is more important for metals demand than is the U.S. and Europe," he said.
China accounts for 40 percent of global copper consumption.
Beijing will issue its second-quarter GDP figures on Monday, and economists polled by Reuters see growth at a median 7.5 percent.
However, China's finance minister signalled that Beijing may be willing to tolerate economic growth in the second half of the year significantly below 7 percent, the most sobering comment to date from a senior policymaker on the country's slowdown.
The dollar rose on Friday, making dollar-priced copper more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Piling more pressure onto copper, the supply disruptions that have underpinned the price in recent months are diminishing.
Copper concentrate shipments from Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi mine kicked off on Tuesday, after repeated delays. At full tilt it will produce around 450,000 tonnes of the metal.
And FreeportMcMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. resumed copper shipments from Grasberg in Indonesia, the world's second-biggest copper mine, as it restarts open-pit and underground mining.
LME benchmark tin was $19,380 from $19,450 at the close on Thursday, zinc was $1,892 from $1,900, lead was $2,070 from $2,080, and nickel was $13,650 from $13,635.