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METALS-Copper set for 5th straight weekly gain on easing trade tensions

BEIJING, Dec 20 (Reuters) - London copper prices held steady above $6,200 a tonne in early Asian trade on Friday, heading for their fifth straight weekly gain on easing U.S.-China trade tensions and an improving demand outlook in top consumer China. The metal widely used in construction and power is on course to add 1.4% this week and is up 4.2% so far this year.

FUNDAMENTALS

* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was flat at $6,124 a tonne by 0203 GMT, after ending 0.7% higher at $6,215 on Thursday, its highest close since May 3. The most-traded February copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 0.6% to 49,330 yuan ($7,038.70) a tonne.

* TRADE: China and the United States are in touch over the signing of their Phase one trade deal, China's commerce ministry said, which will see lower U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods and higher Chinese purchases of U.S. farm, energy and manufactured goods.

* CHINA: China's refined copper output rose 19.6% year-on-year to a record monthly high of 909,000 tonnes in November, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.

* LENDING: China stood pat on its lending benchmark rate on Friday, as expected, after the central bank kept borrowing costs of medium-term loans steady earlier this month.

* ALUMINIUM: Shanghai aluminium rose for a fourth straight day, by as much as 0.6% to 14,245 yuan a tonne, the highest since Sept. 16, as low inventories raise supply concerns. LME aluminium added as much as 0.4% to $1,804.50 a tonne, the highest since Nov. 11.

* CHALCO: Aluminum Corp of China Ltd, known as Chalco, said on Thursday it would pay 1.29 billion yuan ($183 million) for a 10% stake in regional aluminium producer Yunnan Aluminium via a share offering.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares snoozed near 18-month highs on Friday as trade thinned in the run-up to Christmas and investors seemed content to digest the chunky gains already made so far this month.

DATA AHEAD (GMT)

PRICES

BASE METALS ARBITRAGE

3

3

3

3

3

($1 = 7.0084 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Aditya Soni)