METALS-Shanghai copper steady, traders eye China PMI

* LME shut for Easter holidays, to reopen on Tuesday

* Next HSBC flash PMI for China due on Wednesday

(Adds comment, updates prices)

SINGAPORE, April 21 (Reuters) - Shanghai copper futures were little changed on Monday amid lean volumes with trading interest thin ahead of the next reading on top copper user China's factory activity due later in the week.

A further contraction in the headline number for HSBC's flash Purchasing Managers' Index may counter relief from the forecast-beating gross domestic product data last week.

The HSBC PMI has been below 50 since January, showing small Chinese manufacturers have been struggling this year amid slower economic growth. The April reading will be released on Wednesday.

The most-traded July copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up half a percent at 46,660 yuan ($7,500) a tonne by 0313 GMT.

The closure of the London Metal Exchange for the Easter holidays since Friday has curbed trading activity in Shanghai. The LME will reopen on Tuesday.

"I think we'll only see trading interest pick up tomorrow. We're also not seeing strong demand for copper at the moment," said a metals trader in Shanghai.

Many traders are also heading for the LME Week Asia in Hong Kong on Thursday and Friday, she said. It would be the second year that the event will be held since Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd acquired LME.

Data last week showed China's economy grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter. It was the slowest expansion in six quarters but was enough to top market expectations for an increase of 7.3 percent.

That helped LME copper gain 1.7 percent in the last two sessions to settle above $6,600 a tonne before the Easter holidays although it may slip again to below $6,500 if the next HSBC PMI reading disappoints.

Nickel also faces a technical correction after hitting a 14-month top above $18,000 per tonne.

But nickel, the best performing base metal this year with a year-to-date gain of almost 30 percent, is unlikely to see a sharp drop as supply risks stemming from the Indonesian mineral ore export ban and the continuing tensions between Ukraine and major nickel producer Russia underpin prices.


Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Three month LME tin

($1 = 6.2190 Chinese yuan)

(Editing by Himani Sarkar)