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METALS-Copper edges up on China data, lower stockpiles

Mai Nguyen

(Updates prices) SINGAPORE, April 15 (Reuters) - Copper prices advanced on Monday, after data from China showed higher unwrought copper imports in March, while declining inventories, concerns over a supply deficit and hopes of a resolution to the U.S.-China trade row also lent support. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.1 percent to $6,487 a tonne by 0747 GMT, while the most-traded June copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended up 0.4 percent at 49,400 yuan ($7,367.86) a tonne. China imported 391,000 tonnes of unwrought copper last month, up 25.7 percent from the previous month and 26.5 percent higher than a year earlier, data released on Friday showed.

China's March copper concentrate imports were also higher than the year-ago levels, at 1.77 million tonnes, but down from an unusually strong February. "This squashed any concerns over soft demand post the Chinese New Year holiday. Sentiment was further boosted by strong credit and monetary data," ANZ said in a note.

FUNDAMENTALS

* LAS BAMBAS: Chinese miner MMG Ltd said that Las Bambas mine in Peru has progressively restored critical supplies and increased staffing levels over last week after indigenous communities ended a more than two-month blockade of a key highway.

* STOCKS: Copper stocks in LME-approved warehouses fell for a third straight day, by 2,000 tonnes to 192,425 tonnes, according to exchange data released on Friday, while copper inventories in warehouses tracked by the ShFE fell 5 percent from a week ago to 245,178 tonnes. <MCUSTX-TOTAL> <CU-STX-SGH>

* TRADE: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday a U.S.-China trade agreement would go "way beyond" previous efforts to open China's markets to U.S. companies and hoped that the two sides were "close to the final round" of negotiations.

* ARIZONA: Rio Tinto Ltd said it would invest an extra $302 million to develop its Resolution copper project in the U.S. state of Arizona, as it looks to expands output to meet the lucrative market for new energy vehicles.

* ANTO: Copper will face more disruptions this year than in 2018, as labour strife, extreme weather and unexpected project delays will knock as much as a million tonnes off 2019 production, Chilean miner Antofagasta's chief executive said.

* TRAFI/NYRSTAR: Swiss-based global commodities trader Trafigura is set to take control of Belgian metals producer Nyrstar after agreeing a financial restructuring with its creditors.

* CHINA ECONOMY: China's first-quarter economy growth likely cooled to the weakest pace in at least 27 years, a Reuters poll showed, but a flurry of measures to boost domestic demand may have put a floor under slowing activity in March.

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PRICES

BASE METALS PRICES 0446 GMTThree month LME copper 6500.5Most active ShFE copper 49550Three month LME aluminium 1864Most active ShFE aluminium 13880Three month LME zinc 2914.5Most active ShFE zinc 22515Three month LME lead 1934Most active ShFE lead 16385Three month LME nickel 13000Most active ShFE nickel 101250Three month LME tin 20775Most active ShFE tin 147990

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 299.69LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -243.78LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 -11.95LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 1294.57LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 5023.51

($1 = 6.7048 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; additional reporting by Tom Daly in BEIJING; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)