(Adds comment, detail) MELBOURNE, Sept 8 (Reuters) - London copper edged up on Friday and was set for a ninth straight week of gains, as slow and steady Chinese and global manufacturing growth fuels the metal's longest winning run since 2006. China's August exports rose by 5.5 percent from a year earlier, roughly in line with expectations, while imports beat forecasts as China's trade performance has rebounded this year thanks to strong demand at home and abroad. China's imports of copper and copper products held steady for a fourth month, indicating demand remains robust in the world's largest consumer of the metal despite surging prices.
"Copper imports were flattish as expected for August. In the months ahead there might be a lift in metal imports at the expense of concentrate if there is a restriction on smelter production due to environmental inspections," said analyst Daniel Morgan of UBS in Sydney. "That would be bullish for copper."
* LME COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper edged up 0.3 percent to $6,929.50 a tonne by 0519 GMT, after finishing flat in the previous session. Prices have climbed around 19 percent from nine weeks ago.
* Copper last rose for nine weeks in a row between March and May 2006, when prices rallied more than 70 percent to $8,800 a tonne.
* SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper fell 0.8 percent to 52,620 yuan ($8,164) a tonne.
* USD: A weaker dollar also fuelled metals gains. The dollar fell against the euro as a third rate rise this year in the United States looks less likely and after European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said the central bank was looking at how to wind down its 60 billion-euro-a-month buying program.
* CHINA ALUMINIUM: "China's aluminium exports are the lowest since March which reflects a supply side contraction on the mainland. I would expect that number to contract further in the months ahead because we have had some shuts of illegal capacity and there's going to be winter shuts from Nov. 15," Morgan said.
* LME REFORM: The LME sought on Thursday to win back trading volumes by proposing a cut in fees for trades crucial to its physical user base as rivals gear up to offer alternatives. For a factbox:
* CHINA ECONOMY: China's economy continues to defy expectations for a slowdown, buoyed by strong global demand for its exports and a resilient property market - despite a government pledge to crack down on rising risks.
* NICKEL: LME nickel rallied 1 percent as China's steel prices gathered steam although Shfe nickel was little changed. Shfe cut transaction fees for nickel and tin this week, but the most active months January, May and September weren't included, so volumes have shown little impact so far.
Three month LME copper 6929 Most active ShFE copper 52600 Three month LME aluminium 2119.5 Most active ShFE aluminium 16200 Three month LME zinc 3141 Most active ShFE zinc 25015 Three month LME lead 2356 Most active ShFE lead 19065 Three month LME nickel 12255 Most active ShFE nickel 95260 Three month LME tin 20800 Most active ShFE tin 145410 LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 435.22 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 284.33 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 885.06 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 127.65 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1986.33
($1 = 6.4451 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Sunil Nair)