METALS-Shanghai copper slumps to lowest since late Sept as tariff concerns spread

spread@ (Adds Shanghai closing prices, updates London prices) MELBOURNE/BEIJING, March 9 (Reuters) - Shanghai copper fell on Friday to its lowest since late September as investors focused on escalating tensions over U.S. metal imports. U.S. President Donald Trump's 25 percent import tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminium, with initial exemptions for Canada and Mexico, will begin within 15 days, a senior administration official said on Thursday. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she feared a "tit-for-tat" escalation of trade retaliation over the U.S. tariffs that would sap business confidence and investment, while Chinese metal associations called on Beijing to retaliate. Investment bank Nomura, however, played down the impact on exports from top steel and aluminium maker China, noting that the "U.S. share of China's total steel and aluminium exports was only (around) 16 percent".

FUNDAMENTALS

* SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper ended down 2 percent at 51,190 yuan ($8,080.12) a tonne, its lowest close since Sept. 28. The metal has lost 2.5 percent this week and is down 8.2 percent so far in 2018.

* LONDON COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper was down 0.4 percent at $6,803 a tonne by 0747 GMT, having earlier touched its lowest since Feb. 9.

* ZINC: Zinc, used to galvanise steel, was hit hardest among base metals, falling by more than 3 percent in Shanghai to its lowest since Dec. 8, before ending down 2.6 percent at 24,615 yuan a tonne. LME zinc was down 1.2 percent.

* STEEL: The most traded steel rebar contract in Shanghai slumped by 3.7 percent to a 3-1/2-month closing low of 3,709 yuan a tonne after Trump's tariff decision. Nickel, used to make stainless steel, closed down 1.5 percent in Shanghai and was down 0.7 percent in London.

* ALUMINIUM: The most traded May aluminium contract closed down 1 percent at 14,075 yuan a tonne in Shanghai, while LME aluminium was down 0.4 percent. Deliverable ShFE aluminium stocks rose by 4,517 to a fresh record 846,913 tonnes.

* JAPAN: Japan said the U.S. tariffs would have a "big impact" on the countries' close bilateral ties, while South Korea said it may file a complaint to the World Trade Organization.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares pared sharp early gains on Friday ahead of U.S. payrolls data which could hasten Federal Reserve rate hikes, and as some caution set in about the new entente between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

PRICES

BASE METALS PRICES 0750 GMT Three month LME copper 6804 Most active ShFE copper 51180 Three month LME aluminium 2093 Most active ShFE aluminium 14075 Three month LME zinc 3199.5 Most active ShFE zinc 24620 Three month LME lead 2341 Most active ShFE lead 18470 Three month LME nickel 13215 Most active ShFE nickel 100800 Three month LME tin 21380 Most active ShFE tin 146460

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 970.94 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1333.31 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 552.32 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 349.9 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1739.44

($1 = 6.3353 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton and Tom Daly in BEIJING Editing by Joseph Radford and Subhranshu Sahu)