METALS-Copper sinks to one-month low after weak Chinese data

* Chinese investment grows at slowest pace in more than 16 years

* Philippines mines audit review expected next week

* Nickel slides 4 pct to lowest since July 27 (Updates with closing prices)

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Copper fell to its weakest in a month on Friday and other industrial metals also touched new lows after Chinese fixed-asset investment and loans data missed forecasts, raising doubts about demand in the world biggest metals consumer.

But a softer dollar following weak U.S. retail sales data helped to pull many metals off their lows and pushed some into positive territory by the close.

China’s economic activity slowed in July, with investment growing at its slowest pace in more than 16 years.

“It’s a reaction to that Chinese data, which doesn’t make for good reading. The last two or three (data releases) from China have not been particularly encouraging, it’s a tough time,” said Asa Bridle, analyst at investment bank and broker Cantor Fitzgerald.

“We’ve been kind of getting away with it this summer, prices have been holding up quite well when normally you’d expect some drifting back. I suspect there might be a modest correction.”

Adding to concern was a warning from Chinese state media that further stimulus may not be forthcoming and data showing that new yuan loans fell significantly in July, missing forecasts.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed down 1.8 percent at $4,761 a tonne after touching $4,760.35, the lowest since July 12.

“The metal exhibits the only speculative short of the LME complex on our estimates... the largest spec short seen since May 19,” Dee Perera at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.

Nickel slid 4 percent to finish at $10,305 a tonne, the weakest since July 27 and the biggest one-day drop in more than a month.

Three-month LME nickel has shot up 24 percent since the start of June, hitting its strongest in a year on Wednesday, after the Philippines launched an environmental crackdown on mines.

Next week, the Philippines is expected to announce the results of an audit under way for the past month, having suspended 10 mines so far for environmental violations, eight of them nickel ore producers.

Zinc, the top LME performer so far this year with gains of nearly 40 percent, ended down 1.6 percent at $2,238 a tonne, the weakest since July 29.

“The disappointing Chinese macro numbers released overnight will likely put the focus back on the demand side of the equation,” said analyst Edward Meir at broker INTL FCStone.

“We therefore could see the current selloff extend itself going into next week, as investors perhaps start to conclude that prices have gotten ahead of themselves, at least in some of the more high-flying metals,” he said in a note.

Aluminium bucked the weaker trend and closed up 0.2 percent at $1,654, as did lead, which added 0.2 percent to $1,837, while tin shed 0.8 percent to end at $18,195.


Three month LME copper

Most active ShFE copper

Three month LME aluminium

Most active ShFE aluminium

Three month LME zinc

Most active ShFE zinc

Three month LME lead

Most active ShFE lead

Three month LME nickel

Most active ShFE nickel

Three month LME tin

Most active ShFE tin (Additonal reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by David Evans and Adrian Croft)