METALS-Copper shrugs off Iran attack to rise for 3rd day amid low stocks

 (Adds details on yuan, Shanghai closing prices, and updates
London prices)
    BEIJING, Jan 8 (Reuters) - London copper recovered from an
early dip on fresh Middle East tensions to trade higher for a
third straight session on Wednesday, lifted by low inventories
and tight supplies, while a softer dollar and firmer yuan also
supported prices. 
    Iran launched a missile attack on U.S.-led forces in Iraq on
Wednesday, hours after the funeral of an Iranian commander whose
killing in a U.S. drone strike has raised fears of a wider war
in the region.
    The base metals complex initially tracked equity markets
lower as investors switched into safe-haven assets such as gold,
but subsequently clawed back ground.
    "So far the metals have reacted to the news ... without too
much drama," Malcolm Freeman, director of Kingdom Futures, wrote
in a note. 
    "But it is very much a case of the markets in general
holding their metaphoric breath until we find out what, if any,
response the (United States) will make," he added.      
    * COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
 fell as much as 0.6% to $6,115 a tonne before recovering
to trade 0.5% firmer at $6,177, as of 0709 GMT. The most-traded
March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange
ended flat at 48,860 yuan ($7,038.22) a tonne.    
    * CHILE: Copper output slumped at Chile's state miner
Codelco and BHP's sprawling Escondida mine in November,
according to Chile state copper agency Cochilco, amid a
turbulent month of riots and mass protests.
    * STOCKS: LME copper stocks MCUSTX-TOTAL of just 140,925
tonnes, the lowest since March, were limiting any price fall.
    * IRAN: The metals complex is a "play of its own, less
oil-related and less freight-related," one trader said of the
potential impact of the Mideast tensions. Oil prices were about
1% higher but well below highs hit in a frenetic start to the
trading day. 
    * GOLD: Gold soared as much as 2% to vault over the $1,600
ceiling for the first time in nearly seven years.
    * USD: The dollar index fell by 0.1% to 96.948. A
weaker greenback makes dollar-denominated metals cheaper for
holders of other currencies and can support prices.
    * RMB: "Base metals found support in the firmer yuan, which
reached a five-month high, with China appearing more occupied
with the upcoming trade deal due to be signed on Jan. 15," Marex
Spectron wrote in a note. A stronger yuan makes metals cheaper
for Chinese buyers. 
    * COPPER: The copper price is unlikely to rebound in 2020
even if Sino-U.S. trade tensions subside, the head of Chile
mining trade union Sonami said.       
    * OTHER METALS: Nickel fell as much as 1.3% but
rebounded to trade flat. Aluminium and lead
added 0.4%, while zinc rose 0.5%. Tin was the
laggard, losing 0.3%. 
 BASE METALS PRICES                     0716 GMT
 Three month LME copper                     6174
 Most active ShFE copper                   48860
 Three month LME aluminium                1822.5
 Most active ShFE aluminium                14155
 Three month LME zinc                       2358
 Most active ShFE zinc                     18365
 Three month LME lead                       1914
 Most active ShFE lead                     14945
 Three month LME nickel                    13920
 Most active ShFE nickel                  109190
 Three month LME tin                       16950
 Most active ShFE tin                     135560
 BASE METALS ARBITRAGE                          
 LME/SHFE COPPER             LMESHFCUc    486.47
 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM          LMESHFALc   -334.45
 LME/SHFE ZINC               LMESHFZNc   -341.21
 LME/SHFE LEAD               LMESHFPBc   -488.31
 LME/SHFE NICKEL             LMESHFNIc  -2301.05
 ($1 = 6.9421 Chinese yuan)

 (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Michael Perry and Sherry