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METALS-Copper edges higher as dollar gives up gains; U.S. bill in focus

(Recasts; Adds Shanghai closing prices, updates London prices)

HANOI, June 28 (Reuters) - Copper prices shrugged off an early-session dip to trade slightly higher on Monday, as the dollar lost ground after opening the week firmer and investors looked for progress on a $1.2 trillion U.S. infrastructure deal.

The United States “is trying to get the infrastructure spending bill through Congress and all eyes will be on this week’s employment numbers to see if the return to work continues,” Malcolm Freeman, director at Kingdom Futures, said in a note.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.1% at $9,421 a tonne, as of 0739 GMT, on course to snap two straight daily declines. The most-traded August copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed down 0.4% at 68,630 yuan ($10,632).

The dollar’s index against six other major currencies slipped 0.1% to 91.710. It had strengthened earlier in the session following softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data last week.

A weaker dollar makes greenback-priced metals cheaper for holders of other currencies and can support prices.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Profit growth at China’s industrial firms slowed again in May as surging raw material prices squeezed margins and weighed on factory activity.

* ShFE nickel inventories NI-STX-SGH dropped to a record low of 6,106 tonnes, while LME nickel stockpiles MNISTX-TOTAL declined to their lowest level since July 2020 at 234,576 tonnes.

* LME nickel fell 0.7% to $18,400 a tonne, aluminium declined 0.1% to $2,484 a tonne, while lead shed 0.2% and zinc nudged up 0.1%.

* In Shanghai, aluminium was the only base metal to advance, rising 0.4% to 18,895 yuan for a fifth straight daily gain.

MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares got the week off to a cautious start, with Chinese markets holding steady, as a spike in coronavirus cases across the region over the weekend hurt investor sentiment.

$1 = 6.4551 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Mai Nguyen; additional reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Uttaresh.V

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