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METALS-London copper treads water as China data disappoints

HONG KONG, May 15 (Reuters) - London Metal Exchange copper was treading water on Monday, not far away from its lowest for the year, after more evidence that China's economy encountered a soft patch in April.

FUNDAMENTALS

* LME COPPER: Copper edged up by 0.3 percent to $5,578 a tonne by 0218 GMT. Prices have been building a base since they sank to $5,462.50 on May 8, which was the weakest since early this year.

* SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose by 0.4 percent to 45,210 yuan ($6,553) a tonne.

* INVENTORIES: Weekly Shanghai zinc and copper inventories plunged by around 20,000 tonnes each, according to the most recent data, showing that consumers are turning to exchange stocks to source their metal. Both markets are expected to be in deficits this year.

* CHINA FACTORIES: China's factory output growth cooled, rising 6.5 percent in April from a year earlier, while fixed-asset investment grew 8.9 percent in the first four months this year - both outcomes were worse than expectations. Fixed asset investment had been forecast to grow 9.1 percent over the first four months of the year, easing from 9.2 percent in Jan-April.

* U.S. ECONOMY: U.S. retail sales increased broadly in April while consumer prices rebounded, pointing to a pickup in economic growth and a gradual rise in inflation that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates next month.

* CHINA: Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $124 billion on Sunday for his new Silk Road plan to forge a path of peace, inclusiveness and free trade, and called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games.

* CFTC: Hedge funds and other money managers slashed their net long position in COMEX copper to the lowest since November in the week ended May 9, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday.

* MARKETS: Asian stocks got off to a shaky start on Monday as a ransomware attack that locked up more than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries and a missile test by North Korea on Sunday kept investors on edge.

DATA/EVENTS

1230 U.S. New York Fed manufacturing for May

1400 U.S. NAHB housing market index for May

PRICES

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 = 6.8995 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin)