BEIJING, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Copper prices held steady on Thursday in thin trade, as market participants refrained from taking big positions ahead of a week-long holiday in top metals consumer China. Traders also shrugged off U.S. President Donald Trump's comment that a deal to end a nearly 15-month trade war with China could happen sooner than people think. Chinese markets will be closed from Oct. 1 for the National Day holidays.
* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was flat at $5,784.50 a tonne as of 0212 GMT, after closing up 0.1% in the previous session. The most-traded November copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange edged up 0.2% to 47,160 yuan ($6,617.83) a tonne.
* SHFE: Other ShFE metals also edged higher, with lead and nickel up 0.3%. Shanghai aluminium slipped as much as much as 0.5% to a six-week low of 14,080 yuan a tonne on weak demand in China.
* NICKEL: LME nickel was the laggard, losing 0.7% to $17,210 a tonne, even as China's refined nickel imports more than doubled year-on-year in August and were up 35.3% from the previous month.
* NICKEL: China's nickel ore imports from Indonesia rose 26.5% year-on-year, customs data showed, as stainless steel producers stocked up on raw materials ahead of a ban on exports from the Southeast Asian country.
* RARE EARTHS: China's exports of rare earth magnets to the United States in August rose to the highest level since at least 2016, pointing to further stockpiling as concerns linger that Beijing could restrict supply.
* BATTERIES: China's top lithium battery maker, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd, said on Thursday it plans to invest up to 10 billion yuan ($1.40 billion) in a battery production base in Sichuan province.
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* Asian stocks edged up as hopes the United States and China may soon end their year-long trade war boosted demand for riskier assets while worries about a U.S. presidential impeachment bid ebbed.
DATA AHEAD (GMT)
1230 US GDP Final Q21230 US Initial Jobless Claims Weekly
BASE METALS PRICES 0213 GMTThree month LME copper 5784.5Most active ShFE copper 47160Three month LME aluminium 1754.5Most active ShFE aluminium 14085Three month LME zinc 2290Most active ShFE zinc 18635Three month LME lead 2098Most active ShFE lead 16870Three month LME nickel 17210Most active ShFE nickel 136720Three month LME tin 0Most active ShFE tin 136540
BASE METALS ARBITRAGE
LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 561.75LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -98.63LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 -56.64LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 -623.1LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 -4841.62
($1 = 7.1262 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)