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METALS-Shanghai aluminium hits 2-month high after Rio force majeure

BEIJING, April 16 (Reuters) - Shanghai aluminium prices hit a two-month high on Monday after Rio Tinto said it would declare force majeure on certain customer contracts in light of U.S. sanctions on its partner, Russian aluminium giant Rusal. Rusal owns a 20 percent stake in Rio's Queensland Alumina refinery in Australia, which produces the substance used to make aluminium.

FUNDAMENTALS

* SHFE ALUMINIUM: The most-traded June aluminium contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.6 percent at 14,585 yuan ($2,322.75) a tonne at 0136 GMT. It earlier touched 14,670 yuan a tonne, its highest since Feb. 12.

* LME ALUMINIUM: Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was flat at $2,285 a tonne, after hitting a six-high year on Friday and posting its biggest weekly gain since the current contract was launched.

* RUSAL: Rio Tinto said on Friday it was reviewing Rusal's 20 percent stake in the Queensland Alumina refinery, Rusal's supply and offtake arrangements, bauxite sales to Rusal's refinery in Ireland and offtake contracts for alumina.

* RUSAL STOCK: Rusal shares fell more than 20 percent to a record low in early trading in Hong Kong. The stock was last trading at HK$1.72, from HK$4.64 on April 6 before U.S. sanctions were imposed.

* COLUMN: U.S. sanctions are an aluminium-tipped precision strike: Andy Home.

* COPPER: Three-month copper on the LME was down 0.4 percent at $6,800.50 a tonne, after edging up 0.1 percent on Friday, while ShFE copper slipped 0.4 percent to 50,290 yuan a tonne.

* COMEX: Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long positions in COMEX gold and copper contracts in the week to April 10, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday.

* IRON ORE: China will allow foreign investors to trade in domestic iron ore futures markets starting on May 4, the country's securities regulator said in a news briefing on Friday.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Share markets started firmer in Asia on Monday amid relief U.S.-led strikes on Syria looked like being a one-off event that avoided a direct confrontation with Russia, weighing on oil prices and safe-haven Treasuries.

PRICES

BASE METALS PRICES 0143 GMT Three month LME copper 6800.5 Most active ShFE copper 50220 Three month LME aluminium 2286 Most active ShFE aluminium 14585 Three month LME zinc 3101.5 Most active ShFE zinc 23470 Three month LME lead 2315.5 Most active ShFE lead 18145 Three month LME nickel 13970 Most active ShFE nickel 103690 Three month LME tin 0 Most active ShFE tin 143030

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 430.55 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -2076.97 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 290.88 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 175.47 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 -121.5

($1 = 6.2792 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Richard Pullin)