MELBOURNE, March 14 (Reuters) - London metals logged a slow start on Wednesday as concerns about an escalation in U.S. trade tariffs kept traders cautious, while better-than-expected China industrial production figures for the start of the year lent support to prices.
* London Metal Exchange copper cut early losses to trade up by 0.1 percent to $6,953 a tonne by 0217 GMT, adding to 0.5 percent gains in the previous session, when prices edged up as the dollar fell. LME copper dipped to its lowest in nearly one month at $6,777 a tonne last week.
* Shanghai Futures Exchange copper climbed by 0.3 percent to 51,980 yuan ($8,228) a tonne.
* TARIFFS: U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports and will target the technology and telecommunications sectors, two people who had discussed the issue with the Trump administration said on Tuesday.
* CHINA ECONOMY: China's industrial output grew 7.2 percent in the first two months of the year compared with the same period last year, while fixed-asset investment growth quickened to 7.9 percent, both easily beating expectations.
* China's aluminum production fell by 1.8 percent to 5.33 million tonnes in January-February from a year earlier, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
* ALUMINIUM PREMIUMS: Tariffs on aluminum imports to the United States that will begin from next week have boosted U.S. aluminum premiums. Premiums have almost doubled to 19 cents per pound from 10 cents in late January.
* DEMAND: Japan's core machinery orders rebounded in January from a steep decline the previous month, handily beating expectations in a sign that capital spending will continue contributing to economic growth.
* COPPER MINING: For years Rio Tinto has been the sole international copper mine operator in Mongolia, bound closely to a country where it has bet billions of dollars on the giant Oyu Tolgoi project. That is changing as a bunch of smaller players raise their exploration in the country.
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* Asian shares eased on Wednesday amid fears of rising U.S. protectionism as President Donald Trump fired his Secretary of State, regarded as a moderate in his administration, and eyes hefty tariffs on Chinese imports.
DATA AHEAD (GMT) 1000 Euro zone Industrial production Jan 1230 U.S. Retail sales Feb 1400 U.S. Business inventories Jan
BASE METALS PRICES 0219 GMT Three month LME copper 6953.5 Most active ShFE copper 52090 Three month LME aluminum 2103 Most active ShFE aluminum 13950 Three month LME zinc 3284 Most active ShFE zinc 25185 Three month LME lead 2402.5 Most active ShFE lead 18450 Three month LME nickel 13825 Most active ShFE nickel 104540 Three month LME tin 21195 Most active ShFE tin 145500
BASE METALS ARBITRAGE
LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 963.2 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1477.8
LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 556.9 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 -90.59 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 997.73
($1 = 6.3172 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)