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METALS-Shanghai aluminium edges down after U.S. import tariff plan

(Updates prices) BEIJING, March 2 (Reuters) - Shanghai aluminium prices edged down on Friday after earlier hitting over two-week highs following U.S. President Donald Trump's pledge to impose a 10 percent tariff on imports of the metal. Lower Chinese exports to the United States could leave China's domestic market in greater surplus, but Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong played down the significance of move. The "import duty increase on aluminium products will have a small impact on China's aluminium export and domestic market, in our view," the brokerage wrote in a note. "China's aluminium products exports to U.S. accounted for around 14 percent of its total exports in 2017 and represent only 1 percent of China's total aluminium production," it added.

FUNDAMENTALS

* SHFE ALUMINIUM: The most-traded April aluminium contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) closed down 0.1 percent at 14,340 yuan ($2,259.98) a tonne. It had earlier climbed to as high as 14,480 yuan, its highest since Feb. 12. It gained 0.8 percent this week, its best weekly rise since the week ending Dec. 29.

* LME ALUMINIUM: Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.3 percent at $2,140 a tonne as of 0718 GMT.

* ALUMINIUM: U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Thursday he would impose hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminium to protect U.S. producers, risking retaliation from major trade partners like China, Europe and neighbouring Canada.

* PREMIUMS: Premiums for aluminium in the United States spiked to the highest in almost three years as buyers sought to secure metal before higher costs come into force.

* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.1 percent at $6,925.50 a tonne.

* SHFE COPPER: The most traded Shanghai copper contract closed down 0.1 percent at 52,320 yuan a tonne. Market open interest on ShFE copper surged to 855,760 lots on Thursday, its highest since November 2015. NICKEL: Shanghai nickel was the biggest loser, slipping 2.2 percent to 102,180 yuan a tonne, tracking a 2.3 percent dip in London on Thursday amid a stainless steel inventory overhang.

MARKETS NEWS

* Stock markets in Asia extended Wall Street's overnight rout on Friday, with investors spooked by the spectre of a global trade war after President Donald Trump said the United States would impose hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

PRICES

BASE METALS PRICES 0716 GMT Three month LME copper 6944.5 Most active ShFE copper 52330 Three month LME aluminium 2141 Most active ShFE aluminium 14335 Three month LME zinc 3421 Most active ShFE zinc 26255 Three month LME lead 2460.5 Most active ShFE lead 18890 Three month LME nickel 13385 Most active ShFE nickel 102180 Three month LME tin 21590 Most active ShFE tin 147280

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 1117.98 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1430.12 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 569.94 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 91.04 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1840.74

($1 = 6.3452 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath and Manolo Serapio Jr.)