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METALS-Copper drifts in thin trade ahead of China holiday

(Adds Shanghai closing prices, updates London prices) BEIJING, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Copper prices drifted lower on Thursday in thin trade as market participants refrained from taking big positions ahead of a week-long holiday in top metals consumer China from Oct. 1. Traders also shrugged off U.S. President Donald Trump's comment that a deal to end the protracted trade war with China could happen sooner than people think. Copper prices are heading for a 3.7% drop in London this quarter and are down a relatively modest 3.2% so far in 2019. "The grimmer mood towards the global and Chinese economies has yet to translate into much weaker prices, and the essential neutrality of the balance is no doubt helping," Macquarie said in a note. Even the bank's "more cautious" global demand growth forecast of 1.5% this year, down from 3.7% in 2018, will equate to a copper market deficit of about 90,000 tonnes, it added.

FUNDAMENTALS

* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange slipped 0.2% to $5,774 a tonne by 0702 GMT, after closing up 0.1% in the previous session. The most-traded November copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed 0.2% up at 47,120 yuan ($6,612.03) a tonne.

* SHFE: The ShFE complex was mixed, with lead and nickel making slight gains while aluminium closed 0.7% down at a six-week low of 14,040 yuan on weak demand in China.

* ALUMINIUM: Stocks of aluminium held at three major Japanese ports <AL-STK-JPPRT> at the end of August rose 5.6% from the previous month to 326,100 tonnes, Marubeni Corp said on Thursday.

* ALUMINA: The fall in aluminium prices came despite the Chinese city of Luliang imposing a temporary 50% production cut on alumina refineries, which has sent spot alumina prices in North China <SMM-ALM-NCHN> to a 2-1/2-month high.

* NICKEL: LME nickel shed 0.5% to $17,240 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. The premium of LME cash nickel over the three-month contract <CMNI0-3> was last at $150 a tonne. 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.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian stocks pared gains on Thursday and safe-haven assets rose on fading optimism over a speedy resolution to the U.S.-China trade war. PRICES

BASE METALS PRICES 0708 GMTThree month LME copper 5778Most active ShFE copper 47100Three month LME aluminium 1747.5Most active ShFE aluminium 14035Three month LME zinc 2283Most active ShFE zinc 18610Three month LME lead 2094.5Most active ShFE lead 16855Three month LME nickel 17240Most active ShFE nickel 136570Three month LME tin 16470Most active ShFE tin 136100

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 576.99LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -90.31LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 -25.28LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 -609.75LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 -5058.41

($1 = 7.1264 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Tom Daly Editing by David Goodman)