LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) – Metals hit multi-month lows on Friday on fears over escalating trade tensions after the U.S. move to slap tariffs on steel and aluminium imports into the world’s largest economy. U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to impose a 25 percent import tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminium, with initial exemptions for Canada and Mexico, is set to take effect within 15 days. China said it “resolutely opposed” the tariffs and that they would “seriously impact the normal order of international trade”, while the EU said it will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if hit by the tariffs.  “The impact of tariffs on metals markets is small, (as is) the impact of the tariffs in terms of U.S. or global GDP. But if the tariffs spark an acceleration in trade restrictions and shave 1 or 2 percent off global GDP, that’s when they become very problematic,” said Bernstein analyst Paul Gait. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she feared a “tit-for-tat” escalation of trade retaliation that would sap business confidence and investment. * PRICES: Benchmark LME copper contracts were flat at $6,840 a tonne at 1212 GMT, having touched a one-month low, while aluminium was down 0.2 percent at $2,102.50 after dropping to a 2-1/2 month low. * ZINC: Zinc, used to galvanise steel, was hit hardest among base metals, falling 0.7 percent to $3,207 after hitting a 2-1/2 month low. * STEEL: The most traded steel rebar contract in Shanghai slumped by 3.7 percent to a 3-1/2 month closing low. * NICKEL: Bucking the trend, stainless steel raw material nickel rose 0.8 percent to $13,380 after LME data showed a 13 percent slide in on-warrant stocks to 201,240 tonnes. * ALUMINIUM STOCKS: Deliverable aluminium stocks in Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouses rose by 4,517 tonnes to a record 846,913 tonnes while LME stocks fell by 3,775 tonnes to 1,311,725 tonnes. * CHINA DATA: China’s exports unexpectedly rose at their fastest pace in three years in February, suggesting that its economy and global growth remain resilient even as trade relations with the United States deteriorate.

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