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METALS-Copper steadies, Chinese data coming into focus

Pratima Desai

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

* Zinc hovers near Oct. 2016 lows

* Nickel market watching Indonesia (Recasts, adds comment, changes dateline from Singapore)

LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Copper prices steadied on Tuesday as the market awaited production and investment data from top consumer China, where demand for industrial metals has been damaged by slowing growth mostly due to the U.S.-China trade dispute.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.1% at $5,738 a tonne at 1016 GMT. Prices of the metal, used as a gauge of economic health, fell to $5,640 last week, their lowest since June 2017.

"We are waiting for Chinese data to get a feel for where demand is going, whether demand is falling apart or not," said Liberum analyst Ben Davis.

DATA: Chinese investment and industrial production data, both highly correlated with demand for base metals, are due on Wednesday and house price data will be published on Thursday.

LOANS: Credit data on Monday showed China's banks extended surprisingly fewer new yuan loans in July, while money supply growth and total social financing also slowed.

"Chinese credit data raises the spectre of a sharper slowdown in the Chinese economy it being the second lowest amount in 2019," Marex Spectron analysts said in a note.

"That the metal markets and particularly copper did not react more negatively yesterday says much about positioning with shorts already established."

TRADE: A month-long trade truce between China and the United States was shattered earlier this month, when President Donald Trump vowed to impose a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1.

The move would extend levies to effectively all of the goods China exports to the United States.

ZINC: Three-month zinc was up 0.3% at $2,285 a tonne. Last week prices of the metal used to galvanise steel touched $2,230.50, the lowest since Oct. 2016.

Zinc has come under pressure from rising supplies of concentrate and expectations of a market surplus in the second half of the year.

NICKEL: Traders are watching Indonesia, a top producer, where the government is discussing the possibility of moving forward a ban on exports of unprocessed mineral ores that is supposed to be implemented from 2022.

Prices of the stainless steel ingredient rose 0.2% to $15,740. The possibility of shortages has pushed up nickel prices about 35% since early June.

PRICES: Aluminium was unchanged at $1,771, lead slipped 0.6% to $2,053 and tin added 0.5% to $16,910 a tonne.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai; additional reporting by Mai Nguyen; editing by David Evans)