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METALS-Copper prices supported by progress in U.S.-China trade talks

Zandi Shabalala

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: (Updates throughout, changes dateline from SINGAPORE)

LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - Copper rose on Wednesday, supported by a softer dollar and as preparations began for a new round of U.S.-China trade talks following comments from officials that this week's discussions went well.

Beijing and Washington have cited progress on issues including intellectual property and forced technology transfer to help end a conflict marked by tit-for-tat tariffs that have cost both sides billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and roiled financial markets.

"It looks like we are getting closer to the end (of the trade war) rather than being at a point where things are going to suddenly evaporate," WisdomTree analyst Nitesh Shah said.

"There are continuing negotiations and they are throwing out calendar dates for the next leg of talks and making concessions."

Benchmark copper gained 0.2 percent to $6,424 per tonne by 1040 GMT, having lost 1 percent in April.

COPPER STOCKS: Inventories of copper in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell by 8,825 tonnes from the previous day to 173,575 tonnes <MCUSTX-TOTAL>.

SPREADS: This helped the premium of cash copper over the three-month contract <CMCU0-3> climb to its highest in over a month at nearly $12 despite a recent surge in inventories.

ALUMINIUM INVENTORIES: On-warrant stocks of aluminum <MALSTX-TOTAL> available jumped to their highest since January at 776,675 tonnes.

U.S. RATES: The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged as it maintains a "patient" monetary policy stance amid strong economic growth, despite a call from President Donald Trump to cut interest rates.

DOLLAR: Against a basket of six currencies, the dollar was down slightly after hitting a one-week low ahead of the Fed news, making dollar-priced commodities cheaper for holders of non-U.S. currencies.

TIN: Unionised workers at Peruvian miner Minsur's San Rafael tin mine, a major producer of the metal, started an indefinite strike on Tuesday to demand a bonus, the company said.

RIO TINTO: Copper miner Rio Tinto Ltd "firmly believes" Washington and Beijing will reach a trade deal, its chief executive told the CNBC television network, adding that Rio's order books are "absolutely full."

COLUMN: Industrial metal markets are taking a breather as they await tangible evidence that China's latest stimulus package is feeding through to a flagging manufacturing sector.

PRICES: Three-month aluminum on the LME was down 0.1 percent at $1,795 a tonne, zinc was steady at $2,829, lead slipped 0.7 percent to $1,912, tin rose 0.1 percent to $19,675 and nickel advanced 0.4 percent to $12,250.

CHINA HOLIDAY: Trading volumes were thin as many markets were closed for the May 1 holiday, including China.

(Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Dale Hudson)