(Updates prices) MELBOURNE, July 17 (Reuters) - London copper hit its highest since early March on Monday, supported by a weaker dollar and as an upbeat second quarter for China's economy brightened demand prospects for metals. China's economy grew 6.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, faster than expected and in line with the first quarter's growth. Its property sector, a key metals user, also showed underlying demand remained resilient to government curbs.
"I'm still bullish on copper. The property backdrop is still good; China economy and industrial production numbers are still good. Orders are coming through from state grid," said analyst Dan Morgan at UBS in Sydney.
* LME COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper had climbed 1 percent to $5,983.50 a tonne by 0701 GMT, having earlier struck its highest since March 2 at $5,992. Prices added to Friday's near 1 percent gains.
* SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper gained 1.4 percent to 47,810 yuan ($7,060) a tonne.
* ShFE nickel jumped 4.1 percent following increased demand from China's steel sector, where prices have also rallied. A trader said the gap between Shfe and LME prices looked to attract imports. ShFE zinc also rallied by 1.6 pct.
* CHINA ALUMINIUM, STEEL: China churned out record amounts of steel and aluminum in June as producers rushed to cash-in on rallying prices in the wake of a drive by Beijing to crack down on output of low-grade metal. US ECONOMY: U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in June and retail sales fell for a second straight month, pointing to tame inflation and soft domestic demand that diminished prospects of a third interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve this year.
* COPPER SPECULATORS: Hedge funds and money managers cut their net long position in COMEX gold in the week to July 11, as they reduced their net long position in copper futures and options, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
* MARKETS: Asian stocks hit a two-year high on Monday, boosted by stronger-than-expected economic growth in China and bets that lackluster U.S. data will keep the Federal Reserve cautious about the pace of policy tightening.
* COMING UP: U.S. Fed Chair Janet Yellen delivers her second day of semiannual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.
BASE METALS PRICES 0700 GMT Three month LME copper 5981.5 Most active ShFE copper 47810 Three month LME 1934.75
Most active ShFE 14500
Three month LME zinc 2834 Most active ShFE zinc 23315 Three month LME lead 2325.5 Most active ShFE lead 17840 Three month LME nickel 9610 Most active ShFE nickel 79150 Three month LME tin 19985 Most active ShFE tin 145280
BASE METALS ARBITRAGE
LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 561.53 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -707.06 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 567.43 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 -1230.3
LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 2526.8
($1 = 6.7722 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath and Subhranshu Sahu)