METALS -Aluminium, nickel hit peaks after China data, steel gains

* LME/ShFE arb: http://tmsnrt.rs/2oQ5nm20 (Adds comments, updates prices, changes dateline from SYDNEY)

LONDON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Aluminum prices reached their highest since February 2013 on Friday as nickel carved out a new nine-month peak after further gains in steel prices and strong factory data in top metals consumer China.

"The ferrous complex continues to lead the way for most of the base metals and other main drivers today are continued supply reforms and the data out of China," said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, of consultancy T-Commodity in Milan.

Chinese rebar steel futures jumped by as much a 6 percent, partly boosted by a fire at a blast furnace in China.

Nickel and zinc markets are heavily influenced by steel prices since they are mainly used in the steel sector.

Concerns that an environmental crackdown by Chinese authorities will create shortages have boosted aluminum prices, the top performer on London Metal Exchange this year with gains of 26 percent.

Industrial metals prices were also lifted after data showed that China's manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in six months in August, despite expectations by some analysts that economic growth would slow in the second half.

"We suspect the long hand of the Chinese government is behind this ... ahead of the plenum on Oct. 18," Torlizzi said.

China on Thursday set the October date for the start of the one-every-five-years congress for the ruling Communist Party.

* ALUMINIUM: LME benchmark aluminum was up 0.9 percent at $2,136.50 a tonne by 1048 GMT after touching $2,145, the highest since February 2013.

* CHINA SMOG: Aluminium supported by news that China plans to conduct 15 rounds of inspections during its new campaign to curb smog during winter, evidence that authorities are serious about capacity cuts to reduce pollution.

* NICKEL: LME three-month nickel climbed 1.5 percent to $11,975 a tonne, the highest since November 2016. Nickel is chiefly used in making stainless steel.

* COPPER: LME copper rose 0.3 percent to $6,807. The contract touched a peak of $6,872 on Thursday, the highest since September 2014.

"Copper is long but the market keeps attempting to short it and get stopped," Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note, adding that some players had taken bearish positions on Thursday in anticipation that LME stocks would climb.

* COPPER STOCKS: Copper inventories in LME-approved warehouses fell on Friday after a rise on Thursday, which interrupted weeks of falling stocks. Stocks have declined by about 30 percent over the past two months.

(Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by David Goodman and David Evans)