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METALS-Copper hits 3-yr high, near $7,000 on resilient global growth

(Adds comment, detail, and updates prices)

MELBOURNE, Sept 4 (Reuters) - London copper hit its highest in three years in early Asian trading on Monday as investment flowed into industrial metals amid surprisingly robust global factory growth.

Factories across Asia and Europe cranked up production last month as global demand remained strong, confounding expectations growth may have peaked.

"Chinese demand has been good. Chinese demand has been more than what the market generally expected but it is not guns-blazing amazing, which means that supply is playing a key role here," said Vivek Dhar at Commonwealth Bank Australia in Melbourne.

"Yes, there is latent capacity that could be brought on line but no one is doing it so I think we are likely to have prices at least supported around current levels into the fourth quarter. I think we will get more clarity after China's Congress in mid-October."

FUNDAMENTALS

* London Metal Exchange copper was up 0.8 percent at $6,890 a tonne, as of 0524 GMT, extending a 0.7 percent advance from the previous session. Earlier in the session, prices struck $6,915 a tonne, their highest since Sept 2014. Prices are now on track for their biggest annual advance since 2010, up 25 percent.

* Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose as much as 0.8 percent to 53,140 yuan ($8,115) a tonne.

* "Copper is dead. Even for my customers who might want to buy 500-1000 tonnes, they are buying in lots of two, hoping that prices will go down again. They know prices could go up, maybe to $7200, but are waiting for prices to hit the $6600 mark," said a physical trader in Singapore.

* LME nickel was the biggest gainer for the session, striking its highest since June 2015 at $12,380 a tonne, before trimming gains to $12,230, still up 1.6 pct, as steel and its inputs stretched a rally fuelled by expectations that China will close capacity over winter to clear its smog-choked skies.

* Hedge funds and money managers upped their bullish stance in copper to a fresh record, U.S. government data showed on Friday.

* U.S. job growth slowed more than expected in August after two straight months of hefty increases, but the pace of gains should be more than enough for the Federal Reserve to announce a plan to start trimming a massive bond portfolio accumulated as it sought to bolster the economy.

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MARKETS NEWS

* The Japanese yen, gold and sovereign bonds all rose early on Monday as North Korea's latest nuclear test provoked the usual knee-jerk shift to assets perceived as safe havens, while futures pointed to a difficult day for global equities.

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

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 = 6.5480 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)