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METALS-Shanghai copper, nickel fall to three-month low on U.S.-China trade tensions

Enrico Dela Cruz

tensions@ (Adds quotes, updates prices)

MANILA, May 6 (Reuters) - Shanghai base metal futures tumbled on Monday as the rhetoric in the trade dispute between United States and China escalated, raising concerns of a demand slowdown in China, the world's biggest metals consumer.

President Donald Trump on Sunday announced he would hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods this week and target hundreds of billions more soon, saying talks toward a trade deal with China were proceeding "too slowly" as China was attempting to renegotiate.

Trump's remarks took Chinese officials by surprise and Beijing was considering cancelling this week's trade talks in Washington in light of his comments, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday night.

The most active copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) fell as much as 3.1 percent to 47,420 yuan ($6,988.43) a tonne, its lowest level since Jan. 29.

Nickel also hit its lowest since Jan. 29 in early trade at 94,890 yuan a tonne, or a 3.3 percent fall.

The price fall is "exactly because of Trump's Twitter," said a Guangzhou-based metals analyst, who is not authorised to speak to the media due to a company policy.

"I think the effect is reflected in the falls in prices for the short term, but long term outlook still depends on the outcome of the negotiation and the action of Chinese government," the analyst said.

FUNDAMENTALS

COPPER AND NICKEL: ShFE copper and nickel rebounded slightly later in the session, with copper down 1.9 percent at 48,020 yuan a tonne at 0427 GMT, and nickel was down 2.8 percent at 95,350 a tonne.

* PRICES: All other metals fell. Aluminium decreased 1.1 percent, zinc was down 1.5 percent, lead was 1.7 percent lower and tin fell 0.6 percent.

* CHINA LOANS: China's central bank said it will cut the reserve requirement ratios for small and medium-sized banks effective from May 15, in a targeted policy measure to help support companies struggling amid an economic slowdown.

* BANK HOLIDAY: The London Metal Exchange is closed for a bank holiday on Monday and will reopen on Tuesday.

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ARBS ($1 = 6.7855 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz in Manila; Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Singapore; editing by Uttaresh.V and Christian Schmollinger)