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METALS-London copper set for first weekly loss in 11 weeks on U.S.-China tensions

(Updates prices)

SINGAPORE, July 24 (Reuters) - London copper prices were on track for their first weekly loss in 11 weeks on Friday on escalating tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 2.5% to $6,380.50 per tonne by 0709 GMT, down 1% on a weekly basis, while the September copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended down 1% to 51,220 yuan ($7,298.48) a tonne.

China ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu in response to being told to shut its consulate in Houston this week.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways.

“The markets are back under pressure. The reason ... is the heightened tension between China and the United States,” said Malcolm Freeman, a director at UK broker Kingdom Futures.

“Given any opportunity, there does seem to be a faction that wants to get the copper market down by triggering technical sells ... however, there are a great number of trade customers looking for a dip to start buying.”

FUNDAMENTALS

* NICKEL: ShFE nickel jumped 2.2% to 107,620 yuan a tonne, while LME nickel fell 1.9% to $13,435 a tonne, following a 4.2% jump in the previous session after Tesla boss Elon Musk urged miners to produce more nickel.

* U.S. LABOUR: U.S. unemployment rose last week, suggesting the labour market is stalling amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

* OTHER METALS: LME aluminium eased 0.7% to $1,688.50 a tonne and zinc fell 2% to $2,194 a tonne. ShFE zinc rose 0.3% to 17,910 yuan a tonne and lead gained 0.7% to 15,005 yuan a tonne.

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$1 = 7.0179 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Jason Neely

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