MELBOURNE, May 15 (Reuters) – London Metal Exchange copper edged higher on Monday as the dollar dropped, but gains were dampened by evidence that China’s economy encountered a soft patch in April. China’s factory output and fixed asset investment growth cooled more than expected last month, adding to signs that momentum in the world’s second-biggest economy is slowing from a strong start in the first quarter. China’s factory output growth cooled, rising 6.5 percent in April from a year earlier, while fixed-asset investment grew 8.9 percent in the first four months this year. “While these might be numbers that many western economies could only dream of, the fact is the Chinese economy is becoming a little sluggish,” Kingdom Futures said in a report. “Without positive news this (could) be a very dull summer.” * LME : Copper edged up by 0.8 percent to $5,604 a tonne by 0416 GMT. Prices have been building a base since they sank to $5,462.50 on May 8, which was the weakest since early this year. * SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Exchange copper rose by 0.9 percent to 45,430 yuan ($6,585) a tonne. * INVENTORIES: Weekly Shanghai zinc and copper inventories plunged by around 20,000 tonnes each, according to the most recent data, showing that consumers are turning to exchange stocks to source their metal. Both markets are expected to be in deficits this year. * CHINA: Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $124 billion on Sunday for his new Silk Road plan to forge a path of peace, inclusiveness and free trade, and called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games. * U.S. ECONOMY: U.S. retail sales increased broadly in April while consumer prices rebounded, pointing to a pickup in economic growth and a gradual rise in inflation that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates next month. * CFTC: Hedge funds and other money managers slashed their net long position in COMEX copper to the lowest since November in the week ended May 9, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday. * MARKETS: Asian stocks got off to a shaky start on Monday as a ransomware attack that locked up more than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries and a missile test by North Korea on Sunday kept investors on edge.