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METALS-Shanghai metals mixed amid uncertainty over U.S.-China trade talks

Enrico Dela Cruz

(Adds comments and details, updates prices)

MANILA, May 8 (Reuters) - Shanghai base metals were mixed on Wednesday as the market remained volatile amid uncertainty over the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks this week, but London copper pulled away from lows touched in the previous session.

The long-standing trade conflict between Washington and Beijing could further slow the global economy while clouding the outlook for demand from top metals consumer China.

Market participants are braced for stormy conditions to persist, said industry sources attending LME Asia Week events in Hong Kong this week.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington for talks on Thursday and Friday, setting up a last-ditch bid for a deal that would avoid a sharp increase in tariffs on Chinese goods ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The market volatility shows how "confused" participants are as trade tensions intensify even as negotiations continue, said Jackie Wang, an analyst at commodities consultancy CRU in Beijing. "We don't know what will happen until Friday."

"It seems unlikely the two sides are ready to reach an agreement, with Trumps threat to increase U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods not helping the negotiation process," ANZ Research said in a note.

Amid what some analysts describe as a challenging outlook for Chinese exports, the latest trade data gave a mixed picture of the world's second-biggest economy. China's April exports shrank unexpectedly while imports surprised with their first increase in five months.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell as much as 1.1 percent to 47,760 yuan ($7,054.55) a tonne and was down 0.7 percent as of 0435 GMT.

* China imported 405,000 tonnes of unwrought copper in April, down 8.37 percent on the same month last year, customs data showed on Wednesday.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.6 percent at $6,218 a tonne, after trading near 2-1/2 month lows on Tuesday.

* CHILE: Copper production at Chile's top mines dropped sharply in the first quarter of 2019, Chilean copper commission Cochilco said on Tuesday, amid a perfect storm of operational issues, heavy rains and falling ore grades at the largest deposits.

* TRADE: Washington has accused Beijing of reneging on substantial commitments made during months of negotiations aimed at ending their trade war, prompting Trump to issue a Friday deadline to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

* PRICES: ShFE aluminium rose 0.4 percent to 14,040 yuan a tonne, while LME aluminium was up 0.3 percent at $1,821.5 a tonne. ShFE nickel and LME nickel gained 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

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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 = 6.7701 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Joseph Radford and Tom Hogue)