(Adds Shanghai closing prices, stocks data; updates London prices) BEIJING, March 1 (Reuters) - Copper steadied on Friday as metals tracked a rally in equities, shrugging off earlier losses after a private survey showed factory activity in China remained in contraction. Copper is on course to end the week up 0.5 percent as tight inventories cancel out weak China data. London Metal Exchange stocks are "surprisingly low," and would usually lead to "incredibly backwardated curves" if the market was so short of metal, said Guy Wolf, head of global market analytics at Marex Spectron. The premium of cash copper over the three-month LME contractwas at $46.50 a tonne on Thursday. "The fact that spreads are not insanely backwardated at these levels of stocks tells you that there is some metal around but it isn't necessarily on the LME," Wolf said. New LME warehouse rules may have "made it too difficult for warehouse operators to generate any kind of return on LME material. I suspect a lot of that is what's going on," he added. FUNDAMENTALS * COPPER: Three-month LME copper fell as much as 0.7 percent to its lowest since Feb. 21 before recovering to trade flat at $6,509 a tonne as of 0751 GMT. The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 0.5 percent to 50,500 yuan ($7,537.65). * VEDANTA: Vedanta Ltd told an Indian court it has been incurring losses of 50 million rupees ($705,656) daily since the closure of its copper smelter in May. * STOCKS: Available copper stocks in LME-registered warehouses fell to 21,600 tonnes and are at their lowest since 2005. ShFE copper stocks rose by 4.2 percent to 227,049 tonnes over the past week, the exchange said on Friday. * PREMIUMS: China's Yangshan import premium fell to as low as $48 a tonne, the lowest since April 2017, suggesting weak physical demand. * LEAD: Shanghai lead rose as much as 3.2 percent, the most since Aug. 24, before ending up 2.8 percent at 17,780 yuan, its highest close since Jan. 29, after a big cancellation in LME lead warrants on Thursday. Lead added 4.3 percent in Shanghai this week, the most since June. * OTHER METALS: Nickel, used to make stainless steel, rose as much as 1.8 percent in London to a three-week high of $13,290, tracking the surging Chinese ferrous complex. ShFE nickel hit 104,790 yuan, its highest since October, while ShFE zinc rose 2.3 percent a one-month high of 22,300 yuan MARKETS NEWS * Asian shares rose after index publisher MSCI announced it would boost the proportion of mainland Chinese shares in its global benchmarks. PRICES BASE METALS PRICES 0757 GMT Three month LME copper 6507 Most active ShFE copper 50510 Three month LME aluminium 1908 Most active ShFE aluminium 13680 Three month LME zinc 2789 Most active ShFE zinc 22295 Three month LME lead 2155 Most active ShFE lead 17765 Three month LME nickel 13265 Most active ShFE nickel 104700 Three month LME tin 21600 Most active ShFE tin 150980 BASE METALS ARBITRAGE LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 -214.02 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1091.51 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 -110.48 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 320.68 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 -38.07 ($1 = 6.6997 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
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