(adds analyst comment, updates prices) BEIJING, March 12 (Reuters) - Nickel led a rise in Shanghai base metals prices on Monday following a drop in London Metal Exchange (LME) inventories on Friday. The metal, used to make stainless steel and rechargeable batteries, is up by 7.3 percent in 2018. A rally in Asian equities helped take the rest of the Shanghai complex higher, except aluminium which is hovering above a 14-month low, while most LME metals edged downwards after healthy gains towards the end of last week. "Concerns over the impact of a trade war instigated by the U.S. tariffs on aluminium and steel continue to weigh on the sector," ANZ wrote in a note.
* SHFE NICKEL: The most traded July nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) was up 3.6 percent at 104,500 yuan ($16,507.38) a tonne by the mid-session interval, on course for its biggest daily jump since Nov. 2. It opened up 4.3 percent as it tracked Friday's surge in the LME price.
* LME NICKEL: London nickel was trading down 1.1 percent by 0412 GMT, having leapt 4.5 percent on Friday after LME data showed a 13 percent slide in on-warrant stocks.
* COPPER: Three-month copper on the LME was down 0.2 percent to $6,947 a tonne, having closed up 1.9 percent in the previous session. The most-traded May ShFE copper contract gained 1.2 percent to 52,160 yuan a tonne.
* COPPER: Workers in the largest union at Antofagasta PLC's Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile rejected an offer for a new labour contract, paving the way for a strike, a union source told Reuters on Friday.
* ALUMINIUM: Shanghai aluminium was down 0.7 percent at 14,105 yuan a tonne, after touching a one-year low on Friday, with winter restrictions on Chinese smelters set to be lifted in three days' time.
* TARIFFS: The United States opened the way for more exemptions from its steel and aluminum tariffs on Friday, after pressure from allies and intense lobbying from lawmakers, further diluting the measures just a day after they were formally announced.
* LITHIUM: Chile's government has asked antitrust regulators to block the sale of a stake in lithium company SQM to a Chinese company on the grounds it would give China an unfair advantage in the global race to secure resources to develop electric vehicles, according to a document seen by Reuters.
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* A relief rally swept across Asian share markets on Monday after the latest U.S. jobs report managed to impress with its strength while also easing fears of inflation and faster rate hikes, a neat feat that whetted risk appetites globally.
DATA AHEAD (GMT)
1400 U.S. Employment trends Feb
BASE METALS PRICES 0412 GMT Three month LME copper 6947 Most active ShFE copper 52160 Three month LME aluminium 2112 Most active ShFE aluminium 14105 Three month LME zinc 3266.5 Most active ShFE zinc 24995 Three month LME lead 2380 Most active ShFE lead 18500 Three month LME nickel 13715 Most active ShFE nickel 104500 Three month LME tin 21410 Most active ShFE tin 147210
BASE METALS ARBITRAGE
LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 936.52 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1422.75 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 458.98 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 128.15 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1768.54
($1 = 6.3305 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Sunil Nair and Vyas Mohan)