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METALS-Copper gains in thin volume, aluminium jumps on China power cuts

* Copper hits highest since March 3

* Investors cautious ahead of central bank meetings (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments)

LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Copper prices gained on Monday after stronger-than-expected industrial growth in top metals consumer China, while energy-intensive aluminium surged as a Chinese city clamped down on power consumption.

Volumes were low, with investors cautious ahead of central bank meetings this week.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange had gained 0.4% to $9,122.50 a tonne by 1700 GMT, off the session high of $9,199.50, the highest since March 3.

“We had some positive Chinese data, which helps to confirm a V-shaped recovery, but volumes are low and there’s no real conviction,” said Geordie Wilkes, head of research at Sucden Financial.

China’s industrial output increased by a forecast-beating 35.1% in January-February from a year ago, suggesting a sharp rebound in the world’s second-largest economy in the first quarter.

But investors were wary ahead of meetings of the U.S. Federal Reserve and other centrals banks this week, Wilkes said.

* LME three month aluminium climbed 2% to $2,213.50 a tonne, the strongest since March 4, after the Chinese city of Baotou in Inner Mongolia ordered some industrial production and power plants to shut down in a bid to meet its energy consumption targets for the first quarter.

Aluminium is the most energy-intensive base metal.

* China’s aluminium production rose 8.4% in the first two months of 2021 compared with the same period last year, official data showed, as smelters added new capacity and cashed in on soaring prices.

* The dollar index rose for a third straight session, weighing on commodities priced in the U.S. currency, making them more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

* China’s imports of copper are likely to rebound in March, but the expected increase after a disappointing start to the year may not be quite as bullish as it appears at first glance.

* LME zinc gained 1.9% to $2,856, nickel climbed 1.4% to $16,231, lead added 0.4% $1,970.50 while tin fell 1.4% to $25,250. (Additional reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; editing by David Evans, Jane Merriman and David Gregorio)

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