Dec 8 (Reuters) -

Copper prices advanced on Friday on expectations of improving demand from top metals consumer China after the country's exports data showed signs of recovery.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.4% at $8,377 per metric ton by 0620 GMT, while the most-traded January copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange increased 0.6% to 68,010 yuan ($9,503.25) a ton.

Copper is often used as a gauge of global economic health due to its wide application in many industries.

China's exports grew for the first time in six months in November and its copper imports climbed 10.1% from the prior month to the highest in almost two years.

"This could indicate that the weakness in external driven demand for the country's products is nearing its end," said ANZ analysts in a note.

"Its economy appears to be using increasingly large amounts of commodities, with imports rising strongly across the board," they said.

The premium to import copper into China hovered around a one-year high level at $112.50 a ton.

However, on a weekly basis, LME copper is set for the first fall in four as a stronger dollar made greenback-priced metals more expensive to holders of other currencies.

Both LME aluminium and LME zinc were on track for the biggest weekly decline since Oct. 6.

LME tin is set for the biggest weekly gain since July 7, up 3.6%.

SHFE aluminium rose 0.4% to 18,510 yuan, nickel climbed 2.7% to 132,990 yuan, zinc advanced 0.6% to 20,695 yuan, tin dipped 0.1% to 206,800 yuan, while lead shed 0.4% to 15,455 yuan.

LME aluminium increased 1.2% to $2,158.50 a ton, nickel rose 2% to $16,835, zinc climbed 1% to $2,430.50, lead advanced 0.5% to $2,028.50 and tin edged down 0.3% at $24,595.

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($1 = 7.1565 yuan) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Sohini Goswami)