Base Metals Ease On Concerns Over Weak China Data

SINGAPORE, May 16 (Reuters) - Copper and most other base metals fell on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday, as investors remained cautious after weaker-than-expected Chinese retail sales and industrial output data.

The figures for April largely pointed to a loss of momentum, after surprisingly upbeat March readings had raised hopes the economy was slowly getting back onto a firmer footing and would require less policy support.

An expected U.S. decision to delay imposing tariffs on imported cars and parts helped sentiment.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange eased 0.1% to $6,082 a tonne by 0224 GMT, while aluminium fell 0.1%, nickel was 0.4% lower and zinc edged down 0.1%.

* On the Shanghai Metals Exchange, all base metals rose, following an overnight rally in London. Shanghai copper rose 0.4% to 47,780 yuan ($6,948.71) a tonne, aluminium advanced 0.4% and nickel was up 1%.

* Alumina prices in northern China touched their highest in almost five months on Wednesday as production shutdowns in Shanxi province left the market fearing a supply shortage.

* State miner Codelco, the world's top copper producer, said on Wednesday that it has agreed on a new labour contract with the union of supervisors at its small Salvador mine in northern Chile.

* The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday renewed two long-mothballed leases near the Boundary Waters Wilderness area in Minnesota, a key step in opening up the popular wilderness and recreation area to copper mining despite heavy opposition from local and national conservation groups.

* Mexico is close to resolving its dispute with the United States over steel and aluminium tariffs without quotas but hopes Canada can reach a similar agreement before completing it, a senior Mexican official said on Wednesday.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares steadied on news that U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to delay tariffs on auto imports, providing much needed relief to markets hit by a flare-up in trade tensions and on weak U.S. and Chinese economic data.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

0130 Australia Employment April

0130 Australia Unemployment Rate April

1230 US Housing Starts number April

1230 US Initial Jobless Claims weekly

-- Indonesia 7-Day Reverse Repo May

-- Indonesia Deposit Facility Rate May

-- Indonesia Lending Facility Rate May

PRICES

Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

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 = 6.8761 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; editing by Richard Pullin)

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