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METALS-Copper hits three-week low on threat of renewed trade war

Peter Hobson

(Updates throughout, moves dateline from SINGAPORE)

LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Copper prices were set for their biggest weekly fall since May after President Donald Trump said the United States would impose more tariffs on Chinese imports, escalating a trade dispute expected to weaken economic growth and demand for metals.

Trump's announcement sent shockwaves through global markets, pushing equities, bond yields, oil and most industrial metals sharply lower.

It also drove the dollar to a two-year high and pummelled China's yuan, making metals more expensive for Chinese buyers who are their biggest consumers.

Benchmark copper was down 1.4% at $5,816 a tonne at 1015 GMT after falling to a three-week low of $5,802. It was down 2.5% this week.

The U.S.-China trade war and a deepening slowdown in factory activity in China and elsewhere have hit industrial metals hard, with copper down around 20% from highs in June last year.

Trump's announcement came after the U.S. Federal Reserve tempered expectations of sustained interest rate cuts which could have stimulated growth and helped weaken the dollar.

"There was quite a bit of optimism around the trade talks earlier in the week and about the Fed," said ING analyst Warren Patterson. "Both have disappointed."

TRADE WAR: Trump said he would impose a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1, extending tariffs to nearly all Chinese goods the United States imports and ending a temporary truce in the two countries' trade row. He also threatened to raise tariffs further if China's President Xi Jinping fails to move more quickly to strike a trade deal.

China said it would not be blackmailed and warned of retaliation.

CHINA STIMULUS: $300 billion in tax cuts aimed at stimulating China's slowing economy are starting to hurt the revenues of debt-ridden provincial governments, potentially making them less able to implement infrastructure projects.

U.S. ECONOMY: Data on Friday will likely show that U.S. job growth slowed in July.

JAPAN: Japan's economic growth likely slowed in the second quarter, a Reuters poll showed.

CODELCO: The reactivation of a smelter belonging to Chile's Codelco, the world's top copper producer, will be delayed until the end of October after missing a previous target of April, sources told Reuters.

NICKEL: BHP plans to start production of nickel sulphate in the second quarter of next year, an executive said.

OTHER METALS: LME zinc was down 1.7% at $2,363.50 a tonne, nickel slipped 1.1% to $14,435, lead fell 1.4% to $1,962.50 and tin was down 0.2% at $17,285. Aluminium bucked the trend, rising 0.1% to $1,781.50.

All except nickel were down this week.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Edmund Blair)