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METALS-Metals in tight trade as disappointing China data pressures prices

Mai Nguyen

(Adds quotes, details)

SINGAPORE, April 30 (Reuters) - Most industrial metals traded in a tight range on Tuesday after data showed growth in China's factory activity unexpectedly slowing in April, suggesting the economy is struggling to regain traction.

China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 50.1 in April from 50.5 in March, below expectation that the PMI would be unchanged from March's reading. It pointed to continued but modest expansion despite a flurry of support measures.

A private business survey also showed China's factory activity surprisingly cooling in April as export orders and employment decreased. The Caixin/Markit PMI fell to 50.2 from 50.8 in March, below expectations for a rise to 51.0.

Benchmark copper rose 0.1 percent to $6404.50 a tonne by 0348 GMT, while the most active copper contract in Shanghai edged up 0.2 percent to 48,980 yuan ($7,271.05) a tonne.

"PMI is below expectation but still in the expansion zone. We're not too worried about this because if you expand too much the government may scale back stimulus," said analyst Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities.

"PMI number is not that good, but (at the same time) the government will not withdraw their stimulus abruptly. China really do not want to see a super fast growth. They want to see a moderate growth," Lau said.

FUNDAMENTALS

* PRICES: London aluminium was almost flat, while nickel rose 0.2 percent, zinc edged down 0.1 percent and lead decreased 0.5 percent.

* SHANGHAI: The most active aluminium contract in Shanghai rose 0.1 percent to 14,190 yuan a tonne, nickel was down 0.1 percent and zinc advanced 0.8 percent.

* CHALCO: Aluminum Corp of China Ltd , known as Chalco, said its aluminium production fell by 6.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, underlining the impact low aluminium prices are having on its operations.

* RUSAL: Russian aluminium giant Rusal has appointed Charles Brian Hesse the head of its office in the United States at a time when it is trying to strengthen its presence in North America, the firm said in a statement.

* CHINA BANKS: China's five largest state-owned banks posted modest first-quarter profit growth, though slightly below expectations, as policymakers pushed lenders to make more loans to support the slowing economy.

* CHINA HOLIDAY: China Labour Holiday runs from May 1-3.

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PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin

ARBS ($1 = 6.7363 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Rashmi Aich)