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METALS-Copper, nickel extend losses ahead of crucial trade talks

Enrico Dela Cruz

(Updates prices)

MANILA, May 9 (Reuters) - Prices of industrial metals dropped on Thursday, with benchmark copper and nickel extending losses into a third straight session, as investors shied away from riskier assets amid mounting tensions ahead of crucial U.S.-China trade talks.

The two sides will hold two-day negotiations in Washington from Thursday, with U.S. President Donald Trump threatening to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday.

The bruising trade war, which has slowed the global economy, is clouding the outlook for demand from top metals consumer China.

Ahead of the talks, Trump said China "broke the deal" in negotiations with Washington and vowed not to back down on imposing new tariffs on Chinese imports unless Beijing "stops cheating our workers."

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.4 percent at $6,122 a tonne as of 0704 GMT, after touching its lowest since Feb. 15 at $6,111.

London nickel was 0.9 percent lower at $11,835 a tonne, after hitting $11,830 earlier in the day, its lowest since Jan. 29.

Aside from the tariff hike on Friday, Trump also upped the ante by saying he would impose 25 percent tariffs on the remaining $325 billion of Chinese goods imported into the United States.

Trump's tariff measures "threaten to take the trade war to the worst-case 'conflagration' scenario that we considered last year," said Steve Cochrane, chief APAC economist at Moody's Analytics.

"It is in the interests of both sides to bring the trade negotiations to a close and focus on policies appropriate for economic stability," Cochrane said.

FUNDAMENTALS

* SHANGHAI COPPER: On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, the most-traded copper contract ended 0.7 percent lower at 47,560 yuan ($6,992.16) a tonne, while nickel was down 1.1 percent at 95,130 yuan.

* IRAN: Trump on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on Iran, targeting revenue from its exports of industrial metals, the latest salvo in tensions between Washington and Tehran over a 2015 international accord curbing the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

The U.S. sanctions on Iran covers iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors, a White House statement said.

* PRICES: ShFE zinc dropped 1.4 percent and London zinc dipped 0.8 percent, while ShFE aluminum eased 0.1 percent and London aluminum was down 0.4 percent.

* GRAPHIC: The world's biggest diversified miners have yet to see their share prices reflect their role as providers of the minerals needed for a shift to a low-carbon economy.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminum

Most active ShFE aluminum

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 = 6.8019 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Shreejay Sinha and Joseph Radford)