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METALS-Copper steady amid supply concern, weak China data caps gains

Mai Nguyen

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

SINGAPORE, Oct 31 (Reuters) - London copper was steady on Thursday and Shanghai copper fell as disappointing China data pointed to weak demand for the red metal, while worries of a supply disruption in Chile, the world's biggest producer, lent some support.

Factory activity in China, the world's biggest consumer of the metal, shrank for the sixth straight month in October, pointing to further pressure on its manufacturers as they grapple with the weakest economic growth in nearly 30 years.

China's purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 49.3 in October, versus 49.8 in September. Economists polled by Reuters had expected the reading would be unchanged from September.

"PMI number below market expectation shows that headwinds facing China's economy are still there. Going forward there will be slowing demand as China enters into winter time," said analyst Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) fell as much as 0.3% in early Asian trading hours before edging up 0.1% to $5,912 a tonne by 0429 GMT, on track for its biggest monthly gain since February after supply disruptions in Chile.

Mining operations in Chile are facing delays in supplies, travel disruptions and workers walking off to join nation-wide protests, in what is the biggest political crisis since 1990 for the South American nation.

The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) fell 0.4% to 47,320 yuan ($6,723.50) a tonne.

FUNDAMENTALS

* PRICES: LME aluminum declined 0.3%, zinc dropped 1.2% and lead fell 0.4%, while nickel rose 0.5%. ShFE aluminum eased 0.1%, zinc fell 0.8%, lead lost 0.9%, while nickel advanced 0.5%.

* TRADE TALKS: A summit in Chile where U.S. President Donald Trump said he hoped to sign an interim trade deal with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is canceled due to violent protests. Officials from both the countries still expressed optimism on reaching an initial trade agreement next month.

* RATES: The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut interest rates for the third time this year to help sustain U.S. growth, but signaled there would be no further reductions unless the economy takes a turn for the worse.

* CHILE: Chile's manufacturing production dropped 1.5% in September, compared with the same month the previous year amid a 5.4% decrease in mining production.

* TRIMET: German aluminum producer Trimet Aluminium plans to return to full capacity output next year after reductions in 2019, with demand from the automobile sector expected to be strong, an executive board member said.

* PERU COPPER: Peru has given an important green light for Southern Copper Corp's much-delayed Tia Maria copper mine, but the government cautioned it would not move ahead with the project without the right social and environmental conditions being met.

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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 = 7.0380 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Shounak Dasgupta)