SYDNEY, May 12 (Reuters) - Copper prices remained flat in Asia on Friday as equities headed for a strong end to the week and the short-covering that pulled the contract higher overnight failed to re-emerge.
"The day brought a round of range trading in copper, with those expectations of some short covering coming never materialising," a commodities trader in Perth said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak with media.
A weakened outlook for copper demand in China, which consumes nearly half the world's requirements, amid soft data on imports and demand growth, weighed on sentiment, the trader said.
The negative sentiment was somewhat countered after the People's Bank of China released funding to ease credit, which could spur industrial and construction activity.
COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was steady at $5,538 a tonne at 0700 GMT after settling a modest 0.8 percent up overnight.
* The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed 0.02 percent lower at 44,930 yuan ($6,508.86) a tonne.
* CHINA PMI: Surveys of manufacturers showed activity slowed in April, while trade data showed import growth slowing and export growth halving.
* NOBLE LOSS: Noble Group Ltd reported a quarterly loss that pummelled its shares by a record 33 percent, stoking worries the Singapore-listed commodity trader was failing to recover from a crisis-wracked two years despite a deep restructuring.
* HKEx: The head of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) said the bourse's upcoming commodity platform in mainland China would support futures trading at other Chinese exchanges.
* NICKEL: It may be going from bad to worse for the nickel price, with conciliatory comments from the new mining minister in top ore producer the Philippines adding to the risks of the market being pushed into oversupply.
* GLOBAL: Asian shares were hobbled on Friday by a downbeat performance on Wall Street though they remained on track for weekly gains, while oil prices extended a rally on hopes for output cuts.
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 = 6.9029 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Sonali Paul and Miral Fahmy)