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METALS-China data, supply concerns lift copper prices to near two-week high

(Updates prices, adds analyst comment)

March 15 (Reuters) - Copper prices rose on Monday to their highest in almost two weeks, building on last week’s gains as industrial output growth in top metals consumer China accelerated faster than expected in January-February and concerns over global supply resurfaced.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.4% at $9,124.50 a tonne by 0350 GMT, after earlier rising to $9,199.50, the strongest since March 3.

The most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 1.1% to 67,770 yuan ($10,421.34) a tonne. Earlier in the day, it hit its highest since March 3 at 68,230 yuan.

China’s industrial output grew 35.1% in January-February from a year ago, beating a 30% surge expected in a Reuters poll and faster than the 7.3% gain in December, suggesting a sharp rebound of the world’s second-largest economy in the first quarter.

“The crash in activity last year is swelling the year-on-year comparisons but it’s not all about base effects,” said ING’s Asia senior economist Prakash Sakpal. “The underlying recovery also has seen some momentum.”

FUNDAMENTALS

* China’s output of 10 nonferrous metals, including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel, rose 10.6% in January-February from a year earlier to 10.56 million tonnes.

* Commodities trader Trafigura sees a significant supply deficit in the copper market and a prolonged high-price cycle.

* Miners Vale SA, Anglo American PLc and Chile’s Codelco expect demand for copper to strengthen in the coming years on growing demand for environmentally friendly cars.

* Other metals also advanced. In London, aluminium rose 1.1% to $2,195/tonne, zinc gained 0.8% to $2,826/tonne, and lead climbed 0.2% to $1,966/tonne. Nickel dropped 0.6% to $15,915/tonne, while tin fell 0.4% to $25,495/tonne.

* In Shanghai, aluminium rose 1.6%, zinc gained 0.6%, and lead climbed 0.6%. Nickel slumped 1.9%, while tin slid 2.1%.

* For the top stories in metals and other news, click or (Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Subhranshu Sahu)

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