SHANGHAI, July 20 (Reuters) - London copper prices edged up on Friday, holding near a two-week high hit in the previous session on hopes top consumer China would take more steps to boost its economy, but weak U.S. data is expected to keep a lid on gains.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged up 0.2 percent to $7,741.25 per tonne by 0119 GMT. It touched a high of $7,813 per tonne on Thursday, its highest since July 3.
The most active November copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.1 percent to 56,270 yuan ($8,800) per tonne. The contract was partly boosted by investors moving their expired October positions to November.
Many investors are betting on new Chinese stimulus measures this weekend after Premier Wen Jiabao said earlier this week that Beijing needed to step up efforts to create more jobs.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel easily won a parliamentary vote on a euro zone rescue package for Spanish banks on Thursday despite growing unease in her centre-right coalition about the rising cost of Europe's debt crisis for German taxpayers.
The slowdown in the U.S. economy persisted early in the third quarter as factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region contracted in July for a third straight month and new claims for jobless aid surged last week.
Japanese big manufacturers' outlook improved slightly in July but they remained pessimistic for a second straight month, a Reuters poll showed, as concerns about the global economic slowdown and a strong yen weigh on the export-reliant economy.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has extended the consultation period for its deliberations on JP Morgan Chase & Co's controversial plan to launch an exchanged-traded fund (ETF) physically backed by copper, it said in a notice late on Thursday.
U.S. miner Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc's said its Grasberg mine in Indonesia is returning to normal production after a crippling strike last year. The company also said it planned to increase copper production by 25 percent over the next three years through development of brownfields - projects near existing mines.
Around 500 contract workers at three of world No. 1 copper producer Codelco's massive northern deposits will strike on Friday, the national federation of contract workers said, but Codelco said the unrest won't affect output.
Asian shares were a tad weaker on Friday but were poised for their biggest weekly gain since January as strong U.S. corporate earnings lifted the S&P 500 to a 2-1/2 month high, although a firm yen kept Japanese shares on the backfoot.
The euro fell against the dollar and hovered near a record low versus the Australian dollar on Friday, undermined by worries about Spain's fiscal woes and recent falls in shorter-term euro zone interest rates.
0600 DE producer prices mm
1430 U.S. Economic Cycle Research Inst. Index
1930 U.S. CFTC commitment of traders data Weekly
Base metals prices at 0119 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct Move YTD pct chg
LME Cu 7741.25 11.25 +0.15 1.86
SHFE CU FUT NOV2 56270 40 +0.07 1.15
LME Alum 1933.00 -11.00 -0.57 -4.31
SHFE AL FUT OCT2 15645 30 +0.19 -1.23
HG COPPER SEP2 351.55 -1.90 -0.54 2.31
LME Zinc 1878.00 -8.50 -0.45 1.79
SHFE ZN FUT OCT2 14835 05 +0.03 0.27
LME Nickel 16100.00 45.00 +0.28 -13.95
LME Lead 1920.00 -9.50 -0.49 -5.65
SHFE PB FUT 15070 50 +0.33 -1.44
LME Tin 19095.00 0.00 +0.00 -0.55
LME/Shanghai arb 1446
Shanghai and COMEX contracts show most active months
^ LME 3-m copper in yuan, including 17 pct VAT, minus SHFE third month
($1 = 6.3734 Chinese yuan)