* U.S. employers cut less jobs than expected in February
* Comments from China ease concerns about monetary policy
* Downward pressure ahead as Chile miners resume output
(Updates prices; adds data, analyst's comment)
By Michael Taylor and Rebekah Curtis
LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - Copper rose 3 percent on Friday, as upbeat U.S. jobs data boosted risk appetite and comments from China calmed investors' concerns that monetary tightening in the world's top metal consumer could jeopardise its demand.
Benchmark copper for three-month delivery CMCU3 on the London Metal Exchange traded at $7,590 a tonne at 1551 GMT from $7,370 on Thursday, near a session high of $7,594.
Western demand is still weak, but economic data is improving slowly. Boosting sentiment was data showing U.S. employers cut a smaller than expected 36,000 jobs in February. [ID:nN04107795]
Also lifting sentiment, China's Premier Wen Jiabao said the country would stick to an appropriately easy monetary stance and an active fiscal policy. [ID:nTOE6230AE]
This helped sooth concerns about Chinese demand, which is showing signs of softening as the country has moved to a less accommodative monetary policy to cool rapid growth.
"The fundamentals have generally been improving," said David Wilson, an analyst at Societe Generale.
"There's a little bit more optimism that China is going to continue to be a major metals consumer," he added.
"People are little a bit more positive on comments that the Chinese premier was making about maintaining spending, to maintain economic growth."
Copper is up just 2 percent so far this year, whereas intense demand from China helped the metal used in power and construction surge 140 percent in 2009. [ID:nTOE62301C].
Also supporting prices, copper stocks at LME warehouses fell 1,075 tonnes to 543,150 tonnes -- levels not seen since early February -- maintaining a recent downward trend.
Copper's gains follow a five-week peak in prices on Monday after a weekend earthquake forced top producer Chile to temporarily shut down nearly a quarter of its mine capacity. [ID:nCHILE]
But as miners restart production this support is fading. [ID:nN03242555] [ID:nWLB9145]
For more on the Chile quake, see [ID:nN28135112] [ID:nCHILE] "We still would be cautious about metals here, as we think copper has more work to do on the downside in that it has yet to give up most of this week's earthquake-induced gains," Edward Meir, an analyst at MF Global said in a note.
Aluminium CMAL3 was at $2,248 from $2,215 and earlier reached $2,250, its highest since late January. LME stocks of the metal, used in transport and packaging, slipped 6,850 tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes.
A large portion of those aluminium stocks are tied up in finance deals to release cash for producers and to earn banks higher returns than they would get in money markets. [ID:nGEE5BA277]
Among other base metals, steel making ingredient nickel CMNI3 traded at $22,650 from $22,300, while battery material lead CMPB3 was at $2,245.50 from $2,170. Zinc CMZN3 traded at $2,352 a tonne from $2,259 and tin CMSN3 was at $17,525 from $17,250.
Metal Prices at 1553 GMT Metal Last Change Pct Move End 2009 Ytd Pct
move COMEX Cu 343.45 7.40 +2.20 332.75 3.22 LME Alum 2245.00 30.00 +1.35 2230.00 0.67 LME Cu 7590.00 220.00 +2.99 7375.00 2.92 LME Lead 2245.00 75.00 +3.46 2432.00 -7.69 LME Nickel 22600.00 300.00 +1.35 18525.00 22.00 LME Tin 17475.00 225.00 +1.30 16950.00 3.10 LME Zinc 2350.00 91.00 +4.03 2560.00 -8.20 SHFE Alu 16730.00 45.00 +0.27 17160.00 -2.51 SHFE Cu* 59750.00 430.00 +0.72 59900.00 -0.25 SHFE Zin 18430.00 240.00 +1.32 21195.00 -13.05 ** 1st contract month for COMEX copper * 3rd contract month for SHFE AL, CU and ZN SHFE ZN began trading on 26/3/07 (Editing by James Jukwey)