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METALS-Copper slides to 3-1/2 month low as inventories jump

* Copper slides to weakest since Dec. 8 at $6,532/T

* LME/ShFE arb: http://bit.ly/2wZSAEz

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates throughout, adds LONDON dateline)

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Copper slid to its lowest since early December on Monday, weighed down by a sharp rise in stockpiles and simmering concerns over the outlook for U.S.-China trade relations.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Friday that could impose up to $60 billion in import tariffs on Chinese goods. That sparked a sharp drop in stocks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling more than 400 points.

Reports that talks have begun to improve U.S. access to Chinese markets helped allay fears over a potential trade war on Monday, leading to a bounce in stocks. However, concerns linger that growth, and consequently metals demand, may be hit.

"This is more fall-out from the big equity decline we saw on Friday, and then this morning we've had a 35,000 tonne increase in stocks," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said.

"I think the worst is over (for copper), and we should recoup some of those losses today and later this week. (But) that obviously depends on some of the rhetoric that follows what happened on Friday."

* LME COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper was down 1.7 percent at $6,550 a tonne at 0930 GMT, having earlier hit its weakest since early December at $6,532 a tonne.

* COPPER STOCKS: Copper inventories in LME warehouses <MCUSTOX-TOTAL> rose 35,000 tonnes to 352,750 tonnes, exchange data showed on Monday, their highest since May. On-warrant stocks have nearly doubled so far this year and are now at their most elevated since Sept. 2016.

* COPPER TECHNICALS: LME copper closed below the 200-day moving average on Friday, sending a "sell" signal to momentum-following funds.

* COPPER POSITIONING: Open interest in LME copper, a measure of activity in the global contract, fell to its lowest in more than two years last week. In Shanghai, however, open interest has jumped since mid-January to three-year highs, suggesting large short positions have been building in China.

* SPECULATORS: Hedge funds and money managers cut their net long positions in COMEX copper contracts in the week to March 20, the latest regulatory data showed.

* CHINA IMPORTS: China's refined copper imports fell 1.8 pct in February to 229,611 tonnes, Chinese customs data showed on Monday. Primary aluminium imports slid 47 percent, while zinc imports jumped 151 percent.

* ALUMINIUM PRICES: LME aluminium was flat at $2,050.50 a tonne.

* OTHER METALS: LME zinc was up 0.6 percent at $3,237 a tonne, while lead was 0.8 percent higher at $2,360 a tonne. Nickel was down 0.6 percent at $12,870 a tonne, and tin was 0.1 percent higher at $20,775. (Reporting by Jan Harvey; Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Mark Potter)