METALS-Copper pauses for direction from U.S.-China trade war

Zandi Shabalala

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

* Nickel slips to lowest since Aug. 7

(Updates throughout, moves dateline to LONDON) LONDON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Copper was steady on Monday as markets waited for firmer signs of an end to the damaging U.S.-China trade conflict while Beijing trimmed its key interest rate, gearing up for a boost to its economy. Markets cheered the move by China's central bank to unexpectedly cut its lending rate as growth in the world's second largest economy was cooled by a protracted trade war.

China accounts for nearly half of global copper consumption estimated at 24 million tonnes this year. "The Chinese repo rate cut is seen as China setting up for some stimulus but it's all macro driven for copper at the moment, we need an uptick in demand for any real lift in prices," said BOMB Capital Markets analyst Tim Wood-Dow.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME)

was barely changed at $5,843 a tonne by 1200 GMT. The metal used in power and construction shed 1.3% last week. On Saturday, Chinese state media said the two sides had "constructive talks" on trade in a high-level phone call that included Vice Premier Lieu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But Beijing and Washington remained split on key issues.

GLOBAL GROWTH: The World Trade Organization said growth in global goods trade is expected to remain "below trend" in the fourth quarter amid tensions and rising tariffs in key sectors.

HUAWEI: Sources told Reuters that the Trump administration is set to issue a 90-day extension of a license on Monday allowing U.S. companies to continue doing business with China's

Huawei Technologies .

CHINA INVESTMENT: Foreign direct investment in China rose 6.6% from a year earlier to 752.41 billion yuan ($107.58 billion) in the first 10 months of the year and is expected to remain stable over the full year, the commerce ministry said.

COPPER OUTPUT: China's October refined copper output rose 17.9% year-on-year to a record high of 868,000 tonnes. Production of lead, zinc and alumina also increased.

RUSAL: Russian aluminium group Rusal has faced tough negotiations with clients over 2020 supply contracts as trade wars and an economic slowdown have created a "buyer's market" for the metal, its sales director said. NICKEL STUDY: Indonesia's anti-monopoly agency has begun a preliminary study of the country's nickel smelting sector, an agency official said on Monday, after a miners' association accused big nickel smelters of conducting a cartel. ALUMINIUM INVENTORIES: Aluminium inventories in LME-approved warehouses <MALSTX-TOTAL> jumped 91,075 tonnes or 8.6% to 1.2 million tonnes.

PRICES: Aluminium fell 0.9% to $1,740 a tonne, zinceased 0.8% to $2,362.50, lead shed 0.4% to$1,988.50, tin added 0.6% to $16,200 while nickel

shed 1% to $14,825, after touching its lowest in over three months.

(Reporting by Zandi Shabalala Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)