BEIJING, March 21 (Reuters) - Shanghai copper prices fell
for a fourth day on Wednesday, marking their lowest close in
almost six months amid fears of a trade war as investors waited
for news on a U.S. interest rate hike. 
    Short positions held by brokerages on the most traded May
copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) rose by
almost 3,000 lots to 104,540 lots on Wednesday and now exceed
long positions by more than 18,000 lots, ShFE data show.
    Markets are waiting to take their cue from the Federal
Reserve's decision on interest rates later in the day, Malcolm
Freeman, CEO of Kingdom Futures, wrote in a note. 
    Higher U.S. rates may support a rising dollar, which would
limit demand for dollar-denominated commodities such as copper
from buyers paying with other currencies.
    "Aside from this there is also the growing paranoia around
the possibility of a global trade war which appears in balance
to be frightening the more speculative investors away from the
sector," Freeman added. 
    * SHFE COPPER: The May contract ended down 1.5
percent at 50,580 yuan ($7,989.13) a tonne, its lowest close
since Sept. 22. Earlier in the session, it touched a low of
50,470 yuan and is down 4.5 percent so far this month.
    * LME COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal
Exchange gave up early gains to trade down for a fifth
session, falling 0.5 percent to $6,728 a tonne, as of 0725 GMT.
It earlier touched a fresh three-month low of $6,720.
    * INVENTORIES: LME copper stocks MCUSTX-TOTAL grew by a
further 3,200 tonnes on Tuesday to 322,475 tonnes, bringing this
month's rise to 61 percent. 
    * COPPER: Workers at Antofagasta PLC's Los
Pelambres copper mine in Chile have opted to extend a period of
government mediation in an effort to reach agreement on a new
labor contract, an industry group said on Tuesday.
    * ALUMINIUM: Global primary aluminium output excluding China
dipped to 2.009 million tonnes in February from a revised 2.221
million tonnes in January, International Aluminium Institute
(IAI) data showed on Tuesday.
    * TARIFFS: The United Arab Emirates is asking Washington to
exempt it from new U.S. tariffs on aluminium and steel and
believes it has a strong case, a senior government official said
on Tuesday.
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