METALS-New York copper slips on technical selling, weak U.S. data
* Investors raise long copper positions to highest since Feb
Shanghai bonded copper premiums fall $5 to $175-$205
* Coming up: U.S. prelim GDP data on Thursday
(Updates throughout, adds byline and dateline)
By Josephine Mason and Melanie Burton
NEW YORK/SINGAPORE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - New York copper slipped on Monday on technical selling after prices neared a three-month high and as weaker-than-expected U.S. durable good data renewed concerns about the health of the world's biggest economy.
Taking its cue from Asia, where investors see signs of improvement in China, the world's No. 1 copper consumer, COMEX copper rose as high as $3.3885 per lb in early dealings, its loftiest level since June 5.
Those gains had evaporated by midmorning after U.S. data showed orders for manufactured goods, coming after soft U.S. housing numbers on Friday, fell the most in nearly a year in July and a gauge of planned business spending on capital goods tumbled.
The news underscored concerns about demand for industrial metals, sent the U.S. dollar higher, and further muddled the outlook for when the Federal Reserve may curb its stimulus program.
"The data took some of the steam out of the market," said Bill O'Neill, a partner in commodities investment firm LOGIC Advisors.
Investors brushed off last week's data that showed improved Chinese manufacturing activity and better-than-expected growth in the euro zone.
"There's not enough positive news out there right now," O'Neill said.
Moves were also exaggerated by the absence of liquidity, with the London Metal Exchange shut for a British bank holiday.
The most-active September contract on COMEX settled at $3.3195 per lb on Monday, down 0.9 percent from $3.3485 on Friday.
In Asia, the most-traded December copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 1.43 percent to close at 53,360 yuan ($8,700) a tonne. It earlier hit 53,620, a level last touched on April 15.
In the wake of the U.S. data, U.S. bonds rallied and the dollar moved higher. U.S. preliminary GDP figures for the second quarter are due on Thursday.
Tim Radford of Sydney-based advisor Rivkin said he expected copper demand growth to stutter, undermining prices in the medium term, due to stumbling blocks on China's path to becoming an economy driven by domestic demand rather than reliance on overseas markets.
Buttressing the case that a global economic revival is on the way, Germany confirmed on Friday it had enjoyed its fastest rate of economic expansion in more than a year in the second quarter at 0.7 percent, and Britain revised its growth upward to the same rate.
Investors responded to the brightening outlook for industrial growth as hedge funds and money managers boosted net longs in copper markets in the week up to Aug. 20 to their highest level since February , a report by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday.
In China, demand for physical copper moderated, with bonded copper premiums edging down $5 to $175-$205 from four-year highs of $210 hit at the end of June, the latest data showed. (http://www.shmet.com/)
(Editing by Tom Hogue, Joseph Radford and John Wallace)