SYDNEY, May 12 (Reuters) - Copper was flat in Asia on Friday as equities headed for a strong end to the week and the short-covering that pulled the contract higher overnight failed to re-emerge.
"We're not seeing any shortcovering this morning," a commodities trader in Perth said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with media. "If that was the case (in London), it hasn't turned up here."
Weakened outlooks for copper demand in China, which consumes nearly half the world's requirements, amid soft data on imports and demand growth, weighed on sentiment, the trader said.
The negative sentiment was somewhat countered by expectations that People's Bank of China will release funding to ease credit on Friday, which could spur industrial and construction activity.
* Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was steady at $5,544 a tonne at 0146 after settling a modest 0.8 percent up overnight.
* The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange started a touch lower then inched up 0.1 percent to 44,980 yuan ($6,518.56) a tonne.
* CHINA PMI: Surveys of manufacturers showed activity slowed in April, while trade data showed import growth slowing and export growth halving.
* Noble Group Ltd reported a quarterly loss that pummeled its shares by a record 33 percent, stoking worries the Singapore-listed commodity trader was failing to recover from a crisis-wracked two years despite a deep restructuring.
* The head of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) said the bourse's upcoming commodity platform in mainland China would support futures trading at other Chinese exchanges.
* It may be going from bad to worse for the nickel price, with conciliatory comments from the new mining minister in top ore producer the Philippines adding to the risks of the market being pushed into oversupply.
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* Asian shares inched up Friday, hobbled by a downbeat day on Wall Street but still on track for weekly rises, while oil prices extended gains on hopes for output cuts.
DATA AHEAD (GMT)
0600 Germany GDP flash Q1 0900 Euro zone Industrial production Mar 1230 U.S. Consumer prices Apr 1230 U.S. Retail sales Apr 1400 U.S. Business inventories Mar 1400 U.S. Univ of Michigan sentiment index May
Three month LME copper
Most active ShFE copper
Three month LME aluminum
Most active ShFE aluminum
Three month LME zinc
Most active ShFE zinc
Three month LME lead
Most active ShFE lead
Three month LME nickel
Most active ShFE nickel
Three month LME tin
Most active ShFE tin
ARBS ($1 = 6.9023 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Sonali Paul)