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Written by: Staff

SHANGHAI, Apr 17 (Reuters) Copper futures in Shanghai and on international exchanges rose sharply on Monday, ahead of anticipated short-covering when London and New York markets reopen after the Easter holiday weekend.

Shanghai's most-active contract, July, ended the morning session at its upper trading limit of 59,190 yuan ($7,386), up 4 percent from Friday's settlement price.

Almost all other Shanghai copper contracts also reached their upper trading limits shortly before the morning session ended.

The May copper contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange's COMEX division rose to a new contract high in Asian trade on Monday morning, hitting $2.9350 a pound.

''I think there was fund buying on COMEX copper in early trade,'' a metals trader with a major Japanese trading house said.

''If COMEX copper futures keep these levels until Tuesday when London opens, we will see another round of fund buying and short-covering on the LME.'' London Metal Exchange three-month copper futures rose as high as $6,300 a tonne on Spectron, an electronic trading platform, traders said. The LME will resume trading on Tuesday following the Easter holiday.

LME copper closed up $37 on Thursday at $6,140. It later hit a record of $6,150 on Select.

''There are a lot of shorts out there, and we expect them to have to cover once the LME starts up again,'' said analyst Wang Zheng, of Shanghai Dalu Futures.

''Maybe they had shorted copper at $5,000 and now that it has reached $6,000, they have to cover.'' LME copper futures had briefly breached $5,000 a tonne in early February, before retreating. They crossed that mark again in mid-March and have since risen steadily, passing $6,000 a tonne last week.

Shanghai aluminium futures rose 1 percent on Monday, buoyed by copper.

Metals price changes so far in 2006 Metal Latest bid End prev year Pct Move LME Cu 6130.00 4395.00 +39.48 SHFE Cu* 59190.00 41720.00 +41.87 LME Alum 2590.00 2276.00 +13.80 SHFE Alu* 20640.00 19360.00 +6.61 COMEX Cu** 286.80 204.20 +40.45 LME Zinc 2998.00 1905.00 +57.38 LME Nickel 17850.00 13500.00 +32.22 LME Lead 1160.00 1051.00 +10.37 LME Tin 8850.00 6475.00 +36.68 * 3rd contract months for SHFE copper and aluminium **1st contract month for COMEX copper ($1=8.0140 yuan) REUTERS CS ND1056

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