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METALS-LME copper leaps to 3-1/2-year high on China outlook

(Updates prices)

SYDNEY, Dec 27 (Reuters) - London copper was back with a roar after the Christmas break, rising to its highest in nearly three-and-a-half years on expectations of stronger demand from top consumer China in 2018.

Chinese copper futures followed, albeit modestly, pulling the most-traded aluminium contract higher in the process.

Chinese customs data released on Tuesday showed that the country's refined copper imports leapt 19 percent in November from a year earlier.

* Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange jumped more than 1 percent to $7,210 a tonne in intraday trading, the highest since July 2014, according to Reuters data.

By 0700 GMT, the contract was trading 0.6 percent up at $7,167.

The LME was closed on Monday and Tuesday for the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.

* The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended up 0.18 percent at 54,960 yuan ($8,383.80) a tonne.

Copper prices are up by almost a third this year on a positive outlook for the global economy. Miners have also faced higher development costs due to lower copper content in ores, the far-flung locations of mines and tighter environmental regulations.

* COPPER: Pan Pacific Copper (PPC), Japan's biggest copper smelter, expects copper prices to rise more than a quarter over the next two years as global demand continues to grow and outpaces supply, its senior executive said on Monday.

ALUMINIUM PRICES: ShFE aluminium gained 1.1 percent to 14,745 yuan, while LME aluminium eased 0.9 percent to $2,172.50 a tonne.

* FAKE DATA: Local officials in China's northern Shandong province have used fake data to help aluminium and steel producers avoid mandatory production curbs, the state-run China Youth Daily reported, citing a Ministry of Environmental Protection inspection team.

* SANCTIONS BITE: China exported no oil products to North Korea in November, Chinese customs data showed, apparently going above and beyond sanctions imposed earlier this year by the United Nations in a bid to limit petroleum shipments to the isolated country.

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 = 6.5555 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Amrutha Gayathri)