BEIJING, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Copper prices lost ground on Monday, weighed down by a firmer U.S. dollar ahead of key economic data and rising inventories in top consumer China.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.5% at $8,529 per metric ton by 0618 GMT, while the most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slid 0.4% to 68,990 yuan ($9,585.27) per ton.

The dollar was on the front foot on Monday, ahead of a week packed with key economic releases. A stronger dollar makes it more expensive to buy the greenback-priced commodity, thereby weighing down prices.

Investor focus will be on inflation data from the United States, Japan and Europe, which will help refine expectations for future interest rate moves.

Rising inventories in China, meanwhile, further weighed on the market, partly due to higher-than-expected January output and copper users taking a longer holiday amid tepid demand, said Shanghai Metals Market in a report.

Deliverable copper stocks on SHFE after the Lunar New Year holiday scaled 181,323 tons to a near one-year high.

Meanwhile, post-holiday demand is yet to pick up. Yangshan copper premium , an indicator of import demand, was below $50 a ton, the lowest since August.

China's new home prices extended declines in January, data showed on Friday, despite Beijing's measures to restore confidence in the debt-ridden property sector.

Elsewhere, LME aluminium climbed 0.3% to $2,186 per ton, nickel lost 1.3% to $17,265, zinc gained 0.3% to $2,412.50, lead moved 0.4% lower to $2,087, and tin was down 0.5% at $26,225.

SHFE aluminium shed 0.2% to 18,775 yuan a ton, nickel lost 1.1% to 132,830 yuan, zinc gained 0.4% to 20,500 yuan, while lead moved 0.2% higher to 15,910 yuan and tin nudged 0.1% lower to 215,650 yuan.

For the top stories in metals and other news, click or ($1 = 7.1975 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Siyi Liu and Andrew Hayley; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Sonia Cheema)