(Adds comment, detail, updates prices) MELBOURNE, March 8 (Reuters) - China metals lost ground on Wednesday as escalating U.S. trade tensions overshadowed data that showed February exports surged at the fastest pace in three years in the world's second largest economy. "Chinese trade data was published for February and whilst seasonality around ... holidays need to be considered, it was still a very strong export number," Marex Spectron said in a report. "Unless these metals can generate a bigger move this afternoon, fuelled by genuine demand ... I would expect London to be ready to sell this afternoon."
* TRADE FRICTION: China will respond as necessary in the event of a trade war with the United States, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday, while warning that such a war would only harm all sides.
* CHINA ECON: China's exports unexpectedly surged in February, suggesting its economic growth remains resilient even as trade relations with the United States rapidly deteriorate.
* PRICES: Prices of London aluminium and zinc which were sold down on Wednesday held in positive territory, buoyed by signs the U.S. could offer some exemptions to tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. LME nickel slid nearly 2 percent however, pulled down by losses in China iron ore.
* TRUMP: U.S. President Donald Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from planned tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, a White House official said.
* COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper slipped by 0.6 percent to $6,912.50 a tonne by 0703 GMT, extending an 0.8 percent drop in the previous session. Shanghai Futures Exchange copper lost 1.3 percent at 52,020 yuan ($8,221) a tonne.
* CHARTS: The chart picture for copper, zinc and aluminium is deteriorating pointing to further losses ahead as prices fall below the 100 moving day average (MDA) to support at the 200DMA.
* COPPER: China's imports of copper fell 20 percent in February from a month earlier, as a week-long shutdown for Lunar New Year crimped buying in the world's biggest copper consumer. Arrivals were 352,000 tonnes, customs data showed.
* DRC: Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila will soon sign into law a new mining code, the government and the country's mining companies said on Wednesday. The code has been vigorously opposed by the miners.
* ERG: Debt-laden Kazakh miner Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) has revived efforts to sell its Frontier copper mine in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
* COMING UP: European Central Bank interest rate announcement followed by press briefing by ECB President Mario Draghi at 1245 GMT
BASE METALS PRICES 0700 GMT Three month LME copper 6906.5 Most active ShFE copper 52010 Three month LME aluminium 2106.5 Most active ShFE aluminium 14230 Three month LME zinc 3258.5 Most active ShFE zinc 25100 Three month LME lead 2377 Most active ShFE lead 18580 Three month LME nickel 13315 Most active ShFE nickel 101230 Three month LME tin 21280 Most active ShFE tin 145610
BASE METALS ARBITRAGE
LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 1083.07 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1241.63 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 627.68 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 219.11 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 2217.74
($1 = 6.3287 Chinese yuan)
($1 = 6.3278 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Vyas Mohan)