METALS--London copper, zinc climb on solid China imports

(Adds detail, updates prices) MELBOURNE, Feb 26 (Reuters) - London metals climbed on Monday bolstered by reports over the weekend that base metal imports to China jumped in January, underlining the country's healthy demand. "Downstream demand looks pretty healthy, there has been a little bit of a constraint on production of various processed products during winter," said UBS analyst Daniel Morgan. "I'm bullish copper and zinc," he said.


* COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper rose by 0.8 percent to $7,151 a tonne by 0722 GMT, cutting losses from the previous session. Shanghai Futures Exchange copper was down half a percent at 53,330 yuan ($8,442) a tonne.

* LME lead rose 1.3 percent while LME aluminum climbed 0.5 percent on short covering following a 2 percent loss on Friday.

* China's imports of copper, nickel and zinc grew strongly in January. Copper imports rose 13 percent to 314,525 tonnes, refined nickel imports doubled to 26,691 tonnes and refined zinc imports surged 287 percent to 67,111 tonnes.

* CHINA ECONOMY: Also bolstering demand projections, China's new home prices grew in January although major cities saw early signs of softening, as the government continued its efforts to rein in speculative demand to fend off bubble risk.

* China's manufacturing sector likely posted another month of relatively solid growth in February, despite a long Lunar New Year break and a tough pollution crackdown which disrupted factory operations.

* ALUMINIUM EXPORTS: China's semi-processed aluminum product exports rose to 395,301 tonnes in January, the highest since last June and the sixth-highest ever, according to Reuters calculations, as a premium for LME prices over Shanghai attracted metal out of the country.

* PREMIUMS: A global aluminum producer has offered Japanese buyers a premium of $135 per tonne for primary metal shipments during the April to June quarter, up 31 percent from the current quarter.

* ALUMINIUM SUPPLY: The main U.S. producer of high-purity aluminum used in military aircraft is poised to begin restarting idled production lines at its smelter in eastern Kentucky and rehire some 350 workers if President Donald Trump imposes aluminum import curbs.

* INVESTORS: Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long positions in COMEX gold and copper contracts in the week to Feb. 20, data showed.

* MARKETS Asian shares made guarded gains on Monday as investors braced for an event-packed week headlined by U.S. inflation data and the first House testimony by the new head of the Federal Reserve.

* COMING UP: U.S. New home sales Jan at 1500 GM


BASE METALS PRICES 0716 GMT Three month LME copper 7160 Most active ShFE copper 53570 Three month LME aluminum 2151 Most active ShFE aluminum 14295 Three month LME zinc 3530 Most active ShFE zinc 26670 Three month LME lead 2563.5 Most active ShFE lead 19425 Three month LME nickel 13885 Most active ShFE nickel 105470 Three month LME tin 21645 Most active ShFE tin 147470



($1 = 6.3169 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Subhranshu Sahu)