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METALS-London metals take a breather on N.Korea tensions

(Adds comment, detail; updates prices) MELBOURNE, Aug 10 (Reuters) - London copper and aluminium paused near their highest in more than two years on Thursday, amid profit-taking in wider markets as investors fretted about the simmering tensions between the United States and North Korea. China aluminium extended gains earlier on Thursday to strike its highest since 2012, with investors flooding into the market on prospects that capacity closures in the world's top producer would tighten supply. Industry reform across China's steel and aluminium sectors that has seen capacity closures has helped drive the rally in metals, but there were broader reasons for the move, said analyst Daniel Morgan of UBS in Sydney. Synchronous global growth for most of this year, China's resilient property cycle and the weaker dollar have also given investors a reason to get involved, he said. "I don't think the rally in metals is due to any one factor."

FUNDAMENTALS

* SHFE ALUMINIUM: Shanghai Futures Exchange aluminium pared gains to hold nearly steady at 16,060 ($2,414) a tonne by 0640 GMT, having earlier hit its highest since May 2012 at 16,460 yuan. Open interest flew to a record-high around 900,000 lots and was up by 50 percent since Aug. 1.

* LME ALUMINIUM: LME aluminium hovered near its highest in more than two years above $2,000 a tonne.

* Chinese steel futures rose to trade near a 4-1/2-year high on Thursday, supporting prices of key input materials zinc and nickel, as investors remained bullish ahead of production cuts in the world's top steel producer.

* LME COPPER: LME copper was trading at $6,450 a tonne, down 0.1 percent. That followed a slightly softer close the day before, when investors booked profits after prices marked their highest since December 2014 at $6,515 a tonne.

* SHFE COPPER: Shfe copper eased by 0.7 percent.

* LME LEAD: London lead played catch up, rising nearly 1.2 percent. China research firm Antaike said the start of environmental inspections in Sichuan province had prompted 60 percent of local lead-zinc mines to shut down for month-long maintenance. That could mean lower supplies of zinc and lead in August and September. nL5N1KV2YU

* CHINA ALUMINIUM: China's top aluminium foil producers are preparing a legal defence challenging a preliminary U.S. ruling on Wednesday that would impose hefty penalties on imports from the world's top producers, two sources familiar with the matter said.

* Premiums for aluminium and zinc in Shanghai bonded zones rose after the Shanghai prices rallied harder than LME prices, suggesting the gap for imports had become profitable. Aluminium premiums rose $7.50 having dropped $12.50 earlier this week. LME zinc prices rose $10. <0#BASEBW-SHMET>

* NICKEL CUTS: First Quantum Minerals Ltd said on Wednesday it planned to suspend operations at its Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia at the beginning of next month due to persistently weak nickel prices, affecting around 450 employees and contractors. PRICES

0544 GMT

Three month LME copper 6456 Most active ShFE copper 50780 Three month LME aluminium 2026.5 Most active ShFE aluminium 16110 Three month LME zinc 2947.5 Most active ShFE zinc 24385 Three month LME lead 2377 Most active ShFE lead 19430 Three month LME nickel 10810 Most active ShFE nickel 87940 Three month LME tin 20400 Most active ShFE tin 147150 LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 603.51 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 407.44 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 992.48 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 212.23 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1925.12

($1 = 6.6650 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Amrutha Gayathri)