METALS-Copper up 1.6 pct on Chinese data, weaker dollar
* Chinese June copper imports rise by 11 pct
* Aluminium output in China rises in June
* China scraps controls on bank lending rates
(Updates with closing prices)
LONDON, July 22 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Monday for a third day to its highest level in more than a month, boosted by higher Chinese copper imports, China's move to lift controls on lending rates and a weaker dollar.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange, untraded at the close, was last bid at $7,029 a tonne, up 1.6 percent from the close on Friday. Earlier in the session the metal, used in power and construction, hit its highest since June 18 at $7,053.
Chinese trade data showed that its refined copper imports rose to 277,696 tonnes in June, up 11.04 percent from the same period last year, recovering after a drop of 23.15 percent in May.
"Base metals are moving higher partly because the Chinese growth picture is slowing but it is not collapsing. The trade data certainly helps, but I don't think we should read too much into it," Edward Meir, a base metals analyst at INTL FCStone in New York, said.
"How do we know where these imports are going? Are they using them for financing or are they actually being consumed?"
Signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve in the last few weeks that it is not going to tighten its monetary policy just yet were also supporting copper, Meir said.
Lower interest rates and higher liquidity in the system in the last few years boosted prices of commodities and stocks, preferred by investors over interest-bearing assets.
CHINA'S LOOSER CONTROL
Investors were also still digesting news from Friday that China's central bank had loosened its controls on rates, which may help revive the slowing economy and support physical demand for copper.
While not yet viewed as a game changer, China's latest move may have begun the countdown to an eventual overhaul of the financial sector in the world's second-biggest economy.
"The short-term effect is stimulative as it should translate into lower short-term financing rates. However this is met by genuine concerns about the level of demand within China," said analyst George Adcock at broker Marex Spectron in London.
Investors have been concerned about a slowing Chinese economy and its impact on demand in the world's biggest metals consumer that accounts for 40 percent of global copper consumption.
A weaker dollar against a basket of currencies boosted commodities such as metals by making assets priced in the greenback cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Slightly negative for the metals demand outlook, data on Monday showed U.S. home resales unexpectedly fell in June after two straight months of hefty increases.
Other base metals also rose, with the exception of nickel.
Three month aluminium closed at $1,848 a tonne from $1,824 at the close on Friday.
Aluminium has gained nearly 5 percent since touching $1,758 a tonne on June 27, the lowest in about four years. A supply glut is likely to cap gains, however.
The latest evidence of excessive output came from China, the world's biggest producer, where daily average primary aluminium output rose nearly 8 percent to 61,400 tonnes in June from 57,000 tonnes in the previous month, data from the International Aluminium Institute showed.
Three-month zinc closed at $1,877 from a last bid of $1,864 on Friday, and battery material lead finished at $2,053.50 from a $2,033 Friday close.
Benchmark tin ended at $19,450 from $19,400, and nickel at $14,070, down from $14,160.
(Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr; Editing by Anthony Barker and Jane Baird)